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McMahon's memo

When Linda McMahon's wrestling empire faced a criminal steroid investigation, her reaction was not to stop such conduct, but to warn a steroid-peddling doctor and distance the company from him.

While these recent revelations do not disqualify her as a Senate candidate, they raise troubling questions about her character.

In late 1989 the popularity of the World Wrestling Federation (later to become World Wrestling Entertainment) was exploding. Mrs. McMahon's husband, Vince McMahon, had become a latter day P.T. Barnum, repackaging professional wrestling into slick entertainment attracting a mass audience.

But trouble was lurking. Muscled, larger-than-life wrestling characters were the WWF's product and the reckless use of steroids the means for many of them to get that way. The Ultimate Warrior (James Hellwig) and Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea), two of the biggest stars, were both steroid users.

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 had banned the distribution of steroids except for treating a medical condition. Federal investigators were focusing on Dr. George T. Zahorian III, a wrestling physician used by the WWF. Dr. Zahorian would later be convicted of steroid distribution and sentenced to three years in prison.

Mrs. McMahon saw the investigation as a threat to the company's great success. "Call Zahorian and … tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking," she ordered in a company memo after learning of the investigation.

How this tip-off may have hindered the government's case is impossible to say. A jury acquitted Mr. McMahon and his company of conspiring to distribute steroids.

All glitz and marketing aside, the WWF was a brutish business, glorifying brutality and vengefulness. An alarming number of its past stars have died prematurely.

The candidate champions her business success as her greatest qualification. That's the business. It's not a pretty picture.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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