From The Canadian Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Canadian Pro wrestler Chris Benoit suffered brain damage from his years in the ring that could help explain why he killed his wife, his son and himself, a doctor who studied Benoit’s brain said Wednesday.
The analysis by doctors affiliated with the Sports Legacy Institute suggests repeated concussions could have contributed to the killings at Benoit’s suburban Atlanta home.
The wrestler’s father, Michael Benoit, told reporters Wednesday that he knows his son had concussions because his son told him so. But he also said he knows of no medical records or records kept by the wrestling league to support the diagnosis.
Steroid use has also lingered as a theory behind the killings, since anabolic steroids were found in Chris Benoit’s home. Tests conducted by authorities showed Benoit had roughly 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system when he died.
The institute, which researches the long-term effects of concussions, co-ordinated the testing using samples of Benoit’s brain tissue provided by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The Waltham, Mass.,-based institute’s president is former pro wrestler Christopher Nowinski, who has said he had to quit the ring after a kick to the head. Nowinski still has ties with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., which runs the league he and Benoit were in.
A lawyer for Stamford, Conn.,-based WWE did not immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment. The company has argued steroid use did not cause Benoit to snap.
Despite the results of the institute’s tests, there was no way to know if Benoit’s concussions contributed to the murder-suicide, said Dr. Robert Cantu, a member of the institute who also is chief of neurosurgery service at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass..
“Whether it is the sole factor I believe is speculation and I will not go there,” Cantu said by telephone.
However, the level of brain damage Benoit had can cause depression and irrational behaviour, Cantu said.
Benoit’s brain showed the same degenerative processes that doctors working for the institute found in the brains of three men who had played pro football and committed suicide, Cantu said. There were abnormal protein deposits caused by trauma to Benoit’s brain, he added.
There’s no evidence that steroid use causes such protein deposits, Cantu said, though he noted the issue has not been exhaustively studied.
Investigators allowed the institute to test Benoit’s brain tissue with the permission of his father, who lives in Ardrossan, Alta., near Edmonton.
Michael Benoit said Wednesday that he agreed to the testing because murder-suicide was out of character for his son. He also disclosed that after the killings, he discovered a diary written by his son that showed he was having problems.
“After reading the diary, I would have thought it was written by someone who was extremely disturbed at the time,” Michael Benoit said.
He did not elaborate, but did say a friend told him that prior to the murder-suicide, Chris Benoit had been wearing a rosary, which he said was also out of character.
“I think it’s the extreme that is in the wrestling industry today,” he told reporters. “The human skull is not built to get hit by a chair or something.”
The father said he has not discussed with his lawyer whether to take any legal action against the WWE or anyone else in the case.
The lawyer, Cary Ichter, said he will consider later what steps to take in the “legal arena.”
Nowinski said concussions can happen in pro wrestling even though many of the moves are staged.
“I got four concussions in three years as a professional wrestler,” said Nowinski, who works for the WWE on its initiative to encourage young people to vote. “A lot of concussions happen from mistakes.”
Prosecutors have said Benoit, 40, strangled his wife with a cord, and used a choke hold to strangle his seven-year-old son. He then placed Bibles next to the bodies and hanged himself on a piece of exercise equipment the weekend of June 22.
Authorities have said Benoit’s personal doctor, Phil Astin, prescribed a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit every three to four weeks between May 2006 and May 2007.
Astin has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of improperly prescribing painkillers and other drugs to two patients other than Benoit.
From 411 Mania
News: The WWE issues a statement regarding Chris Benoit’s brain injury, stating they had no record of Chris Benoit having a concussion.
Happy: Wow. I’m not sure which Chris Benoit the WWE was talking about. Surely not the Chris Benoit who used to do the Top Rope Headbutt every single match. Surely not the sick bastard who abused his body every single match. Regardless of that, Chris Kanyon went on to say on his myspace blog that the WWE was trying to take away any peace of mind to the families of Chris and Nancy Benoit by making the statement, which I found a bit extreme. I don’t think that the WWE was trying to make things worse for Benoit’s father, but rather putting up their dukes. The WWE has come under TREMENDOUS criticism from the media lately. I’d know. I work for radio news and I get called on all the time for background information regarding Chris Benoit and all the wrestlers named on the now famous list of doom. The WWE took the findings and publicity about having one too many concussions as another shot at them. The media continues to blame Vince McMahon for the murders of the Benoit’s which I feel is totally bogus since it’s well known that Chris Benoit killed the Benoit’s. Just because the murderer is dead doesn’t mean we need to blame others just so we can have peace of mind. Chris Benoit, acted on his own. Chris Benoit chose to do flying headbutts. Chris Benoit chose to take steroids. Chris Benoit chose to kill his family and Chris Benoit chose to kill himself. It’s a beautiful gift from God called “Free Will” and unfortunately, Chris Benoit abused this gift. Why did he do it? We don’t know but he did it because Chris Benoit wanted to. Not Vince McMahon and certainly not the WWE.
Go Sucky: The WWE acted out of place by issuing a statement regarding the findings. The WWE should continue to distance itself from the Chris Benoit case and keep it’s mouth shut. I feel the WWE jumped the gun a bit by issuing a “It wasn’t our fault” statement because now, they just look defensive and edgy, rather than professional and firm. Oh, and Chris Kanyon sucks. Because he likes it.