Tuesday, July 17, 2007
DECATUR, Ga. — Professional wrestler Chris Benoit had an elevated level of testosterone in his system but no other steroids in his body, and his 7-year-old son was sedated at the time of his death, a Georgia medical examiner said Thursday.
“This level of testosterone indicates that he had been using testosterone at least within some reasonably short period of time prior to the time that he died,” said Dr. Kris Sperry, chief medical examiner for the state with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as he released the results of the toxicology report for the wrestler; his wife, Nancy; and son, Daniel.
“Although testosterone was found in Christopher Benoit’s urine, there is no evidence of any other of the illegal types of steroids, or the whole laundry list of anabolic steroids that are out there to be used,” Sperry said, adding, “the presence of the testosterone alone even could be an indicator that he was being treated for testicular insufficiency.”
Besides steroids, Benoit’s body contained the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the painkiller hydrocodone, according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The GBI said Benoit tested negative for blood alcohol.
But Sperry said that they found a drug in the child’s system that surprised them: Xanax.
“It is our opinion that Daniel Benoit was sedated by Xanax at the time that he was murdered, so that (means) he was sedated prior to the time that he died,” he said.
The GBI said it could not perform tests for steroids or human growth hormones on the son because of a lack of urine.
Benoit’s wife, Nancy, tested positive for Xanax, hydrocodone and the painkiller hydromorphone, but the decomposition process hindered the ability to determine the precise levels of the drugs at the time of her death. An elevated alcohol level found in her system could also be due to the decomposition process, Sperry said.
“The decomposition will affect the ability to interpret these drug levels reliably,” Sperry said. “Before she died, they may have been higher. They could have been lower. We just don’t know and we’ll never know.”
The test results were expected to shed more light on Benoit’s last moments. Authorities said Benoit killed his wife and son in their suburban Atlanta home, placed Bibles next to their bodies and then hanged himself on the cable of a weight machine.
Anabolic steroids were found in the home, leading officials to wonder if the drugs played a role in the killings. Some experts believe steroids can cause paranoia, depression and violent outbursts known as “roid rage.”
“There is no reliable scientific data that conclusively says that elevated levels of administered testosterone lead to excessive rage or behavioral disorders,” Sperry said. “All the testing that’s been done regarding that has been completely inconclusive.”
Federal authorities have charged Benoit’s personal physician, Dr. Phil Astin, with improperly prescribing painkillers and other drugs to two patients other than Benoit. He has pleaded not guilty.
Investigators have also raided Astin’s office several times since the deaths, seizing prescription records and other documents.
Before he was charged, Astin told the AP he prescribed testosterone for Benoit, a longtime friend, in the past. He would not say what, if any, medications he prescribed when Benoit visited his office June 22, the day authorities believe Benoit killed his wife.
“It’s a little unclear to know exactly where this leads us, but you take this piece and you compare it with what a witness said or what was found at the scene and suddenly the picture begins to become more in focus,” said Scott Ballard, district attorney for Fayette County. “And that’s what we’re certainly hoping to do.”
FOXNews.com’s Sara Bonisteel and the Associated Press contributed to this report.