Performance enhancing drugs have been the dirty little secret that has plagued the wrestling industry for years. During the 80’s and early 90’s, “big men” ruled the wrestling industry. Wrestling has shown us over the years that large guys with incredible physiques get pushed faster than the smaller guys, even if they aren't better technical workers. In 1993, the US government went after the biggest name in wrestling, Vince McMahon, accusing him of distributing steroids to his wrestlers. This brought a change of direction to wrestling, as smaller talented wrestlers like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were getting put over.
Steroids in wrestling are bit of a grey area, unlike in other major professional sports, as a wrestlers success can be determined on their physical features rather than their wrestling ability. This harsh truth can sway wrestlers into taking performance enhancing drugs. Furthermore, unlike other sports, wrestlers are on the road for over 300 days a year, wrestling four times a week. This type of lifestyle takes a toll on their bodies and taking performance enhancers can help with their recovery.
This list consists of only wrestlers that were determined or admitted to having used performing enhancing drugs and the many wrestlers that fans have speculated took steroids (we're looking at you Scott Steiner and Triple H) are not on this list. The ban on steroids came into effect in 1990, so many wrestlers on this list have admitted to having taken steroids prior to that date. However, they are not exempt because as role models to children they should have had better judgment.
20 Brian Adams (Crush)
Adams was a decent mid-card wrestler for many promotions, including WCW and WWE, and a string of major injuries cut his career short. His first incident was in 1996, where was arrested after attempting to buy starts. Then, in 2006, Adams reportedly received various steroids including nandrolone, testosterone, and human growth hormones. The following year, the 43 year old Adams would be found unconscious in his bed and was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived. The drugs he obtained were speculated to have played a role in his death.
19 Shane Helms
Many of you will remember Helms from his time in WWE as “Hurricane Helms.” He portrayed a superhero that resembled the Green Lantern and had decent success with his run in the company. Though, during this run, it was revealed that he took performance enhancing drugs, Helms received anabolic steroids from November 2003 through February 2007. I guess he wasn’t a real superhero after all...
Possibly the most surprising entry on this list is Funaki, who stands at only 5'6" and 180lbs, Funaki took performance enhancing drugs. A fan favorite and lovable character, Funaki was a low card wrestler, however, he did have talent and had some success in the Cruiserweight division. In 2007, it was revealed Funaki received somatropin (a form of human growth hormone).
17 Chavo Guerrero
Like his uncle (Eddie Guerrero), Chavo went down a dangerous path and took performance enhancing drugs. It was reported that he received somatrapin, nandrolone, and anastrozole between April 2005 and May 2006. Steroids have left a dark shadow on Chavo’s life, as his uncle Eddie passed away because of years of using performance enhancers and other substances. One might hope he will stay away from steroids in the future.
16 John Morrison
He had all the tools to excel in this industry (except for mic skills), as he had the superstar body that WWE executives look for. At one time, he even got a major push and was in title contention. However, it was revealed that Morrison attained his great physique with the help of anabolic steroids. Morrison received testosterone and stanozolol along with many other performance enhancers from June 2006 through February 2007.
15 Chris Masters
Masters entered the WWE with a lot of hype and had wrestling fans pretty excited. He had a great physique that resembled the likes of The Ultimate Warrior and Lex Luger. However, it was evident that with this great physique he was taking anabolic steroids and, in 2007, all his dirty laundry came out to the public. In June 2007, Masters was initially suspended 30 days for failing a drug test, and only a few months later he failed another drug test and was suspended for 60 days. WWE decided to terminate his contract and rid themselves from the bad publicity.
14 William Regal
William Regal has achieved plenty of success in professional wrestling, although he has never won a World Championship. He has overcome drug problems, which he stated in his autobiography. It was reported Regal had received stanozolol, somatropin, genotropin, and anastrozole, which are all illegal steroids, between 2004 and 2006. However, taking steroids isn’t the worst thing Regal has ever done, as he once was drunk and got arrested for urinating on a stewardess… That's actually a true story.
13 Ken Anderson
One of TNA's top stars has taken performance enhancing drugs. During his WWE days, Anderson admitted in an interview that he used steroids when performing on the independent circuit, however, he stated that he stopped using them to comply with WWE’s Talent Wellness Program. Nevertheless, it was shown that Anderson was lying about his statements, as twelve days after that interview, Sports Illustrated named him in an article about wrestlers receiving performance enhancing drugs.
A member of the famous Anoa’i wrestling family, Umaga was finding some success during his stint in the WWE until it was abruptly ended due to the use of anabolic steroids and growth hormones. In 2007, many magazines and newspapers reported that Fatu (Omaga’s real name), along with others wrestling superstars, purchased pharmaceuticals from an online pharmacy, which is a violation of the WWE “Talent Wellness” program. It was reported that Fatu received growth hormones and, in particular, somatropin. In 2009, WWE announced that Umaga was released from his contract, even though this was only his second offence. The reason for this was that he refused to enter rehabilitation. Fatu sadly died in 2009 and the cause of death was acute toxicity, due to the combined effects of prescription drugs.
11 Vince McMahon
He is the boss, but at one point he was a wrestler, and that’s why Vince makes this list. In 1993, McMahon was indicted in federal court after the steroid scandal engulfed the WWE. McMahon testified in court and admitted to taking steroids in the 80’s. Many fans wonder if McMahon actually stopped taking performance enhancing drugs, as his physique was incredible when he was regularly competing in the ring.
Many will be surprised to see Edge on this list, as he never had the same physique as other steroid-using wrestlers. Edge admitted to using steroids on TSN’s Off The Record with Michael Landsberg in January of 2005. He claims to have started using it after neck surgery as an experiment to see if he would recover quicker. However, in 2007, Edge was named in the Sports Illustrated investigation on wrestlers using steroids, and it was reported that he obtained human growth hormones and anabolic steroids.
9 Randy Orton
He is a third generation superstar, a twelve-time world champion, and one of the top current superstars... and he is also a former steroid user. A Sports Illustrated article released in 2007 stated that Orton had received multiple anabolic steroids like testosterone, nandrolone, and stanozolol from September 2004 through February 2007. Orton has been suspended twice by the WWE, with his second offence coming in 2012 for testing positive again for anabolic steroids. Its obvious WWE is trying to make an example of Orton, however, the only way to do that would to be release him. Despite the fact that this would be the right thing to do, the reality is that the wrestling industry revolves around money and fan support, and they would both take a big hit without Orton.
8 8. Rick Rude
The man with the greatest physique in wrestling history. It wasn’t a surprise when fans found out that he used performing enhancing drugs. Rude was a good wrestler and even better on on the mic, but, nevertheless, he was never considered elite and never had a long reign as a major champion. In 1994, Rude admitted to the use of anabolic steroids during the time of the US government’s crackdown on the WWE. Rude died in 1999 at the age of 40, due to heart failure and an autopsy report showed an overdose of mixed medications. Though steroids weren’t the reason for his death, the years of consuming them couldn’t have helped.
7 The British Bulldog
Davey Boy Smith was a very talented technical wrestler who won numerous titles duing his career, Smith had his share of problems with painkillers and anabolic steroids. In 1992, Smith was released from the WWE for receiving shipments of human growth hormones from a pharmacy in Smith’s native country, England. Smith would bounce from WCW to WWE a couple of times in his career, though he would eventually get let go again by WWE for problems with addiction to prescription painkillers.
In 2002, Smith was trying to make a comeback to wrestling. However, Smith’s life came to a tragic end in 2002, after he suffered a heart attack while on vacation. An autopsy revealed that past anabolic steroid use may have played a part in his death. Bruce Hart (Smith’s former brother in law) stated tha “Davey paid the price with (his usage of) steroid cocktails and human growth hormones.”
6 Superstar Billy Graham
Graham is a former amateur bodybuilder and he was training partners with none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. After a few bodybuilding competitions, he decided to get into wrestling. Graham is the prototype of today's bulked up stars and it didn’t come as a surprise to fans when they discovered Graham had taken anabolic steroids, Graham filed a law suit with WWE, accusing them of forcing him to take steroids to maintain a position in the company. The lawsuit was unsuccessful and it was discovered that Graham had been a steroid user for a decade prior to his WWE debut. Graham is still alive today, but his health is deteriorating. He has liver disease, which is a common side effect of steroid users, and an enlarged spleen, where doctors had given him a couple of years to live without a transplant, though it appears he's dealt with that issue.
5 Lex Luger
Luger is another popular big man from the 80’s and 90’s. Luger physique was amazing and he had an accomplished career, winning the World Championship on three different occasions and is a record tying five-time United States Champion. With Luger’s physique, it was evident that he had taking performance enhancing drugs, though it was never proved or suspended. However, that all changed with the release of his book “Wrestling with the Devil,” where he admits to using anabolic steroids, and how fixated he was on having a good looking body. Luger has had his share of turmoil in his life after wrestling, as his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Hulette (Miss Elizabeth), died of an accidental overdose and during this time he was also charged with drug possession (anabolic steroids, growth hormones and many other illegal substances). Luger also suffered from a spinal stroke in 2007 that led to temporary paralysis. Though, after all this, Luger transformed his life, has become a born again Christian, and in 2011 began working with the WWE on their wellness policy.
4 Eddie Guerrero
This is a heartbreaking story that rocked the wrestling world. Eddie Guerrero, who was a fan favorite and one of the best wrestlers to ever step into the ring, was found dead in his hotel room in 2005. An autopsy revealed that he died as a result of acute heart failure, caused by undiagnosed arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease and enlargement of the heart, which was a result of prior anabolic steroid abuse. Though it was believed Guerrero had been clean of alcohol and illegal drugs for four years, Sports Illustrated released information that he had received multiple anabolic steroids two weeks before his passing. As a direct response to his death, the WWE announced an implantation of drug testing for WWE wrestlers. As with many things in life, it takes a great tragedy to implement change.
3 The Ultimate Warrior
During the government’s crackdown on the WWE about employee steroid use, The Ultimate Warrior tested positive for anabolic steroids. It is believed that Canadian chemist Mauro Di Pasquale, who was hired by WWE to implement a new drug testing program, successfully persuaded Vince McMahon to release Warrior from the company. Though, in a documentary, Vince McMahon has stated it was Warrior's experimental use of growth hormones that led to his departure. Warrior had one of the best bodies in the history of professional wrestling, as no one has ever been more lean and muscularly defined than Warrior, so it absolutely makes sense that anabolic steroids and growth hormones were part of his training routine. Warrior sadly past away in April and many believe it was due to the years of steroid use.
2 Chris Benoit
When talking about steroids and wrestling, Chris Benoit’s name is almost always mentioned. Benoit was one the most talented technical wrestlers of all-time and he had an accomplished a lot in his wrestling career. Though, he is not remembered for his accomplishments, as the memory that the world has when mentioning Benoit is the tragic double murder suicide of his wife and seven year old son in 2007. Toxicology reports revealed that Benoit had an elevated level of testosterone caused by a synthetic form of the hormone in his system, which is found in steroid users. However, this wasn’t linked to the murders, as first believed. Benoit suffered from severe brain damage, as his brain resembled an 85 year old Alzheimer’s patient brain.
1 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan once famously said that to be a real American, you need to “train, say your prayers, and eat your vitamins.” When Hogan was talking about vitamins, one can wonder if he was referencing steroids. Hulk Hogan, every child’s hero from the 80’s and 90’s, took anabolic steroids. Hogan testified in a federal trial in 1994 and admitted to using anabolic steroids for 14 years. He stated it wasn’t only for bodybuilding, but also for recovery for injuries. In Hogan’s defense, he said he thought it was legal because he had a prescription for it, which many WWE employees had at the time as they made orders to Dr. Zahorian, a physician known to distribute anabolic steroids. To be honest, Hogan’s steroid use does not come as a surprise since he was a monster of a man at 6'7" and 320lbs. Oh, and we can’t forget about his 24 inch pythons..BROTHER!