As I have been reporting for the last 12 hours, the December autopsy report on World Wrestling Entertainment performer Eddie “Umaga” Fatu shows that he had the kind of enlarged heart frequently found among steroid abusers.
This takes scrutiny of WWE’s so-called “Wellness Program” to a new level. It is one thing for Vince and Linda McMahon to talk in circles about a drug-testing regime they dropped in 1996 and picked up ten years later, only after the high-profile death of their star Eddie Guerrero. Fatu, for example, had a previous “strike” and suspension for having been exposed on the customer list of Internet drug dealer Signature Pharmacy. But that doesn’t mean he ever flunked a WWE drug test. Fatu’s cause of death, a toxic cocktail of prescription drugs, were not part of steroid testing. And he probably had legitimate prescriptions for those drugs. Yadda yadda yadda.
Heart monitoring is a whole different kettle of fish. WWE has been claiming it has a specific program for screening the cardiovascular health of its talent. When the program was first instituted, the company even hyped catching and treating one fairly obscure wrestler’s unusual heart condition.
So where was the heart monitoring for Eddie Fatu? And who was in charge of it?
The answer to the second question is Dr. Bryan Donohue of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (Indeed, from the “Shadyside” campus – I love that touch.)
Like Dr. Joseph Maroon, another University of Pittsburgh doc and WWE medical consultant, Donohue is mixed up in some fashion with Vinomis Laboratories, marketer of the “miracle” supplement Vindure: pure resveratrol from natural Japanese Knotweed, mixed with Vinomis Red Wine Grape extract, and all based on “exclusive Harvard Medical School patented science”! (See “Where Does WWE’s ‘Medical Director’ Fit in Shakeup of NFL’s Concussion Committee,” http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/where-does-wwes-medical-director-fit-in-shakeup-of-nfls-concussion-committee/.)
Right after Eddie Fatu died, a Pittsburgh lifestyle magazine called Whirl ran a hype article on this remarkable new homegrown product, and television station KDKA did a gushy interview about it with Dr. Donohue.
See for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8jqCZ4yUrs.