Other wrestlers used Benoit's doctor for prescriptions
PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. -- Dr. Phil Astin III.The doctor to professional wrestlers. The doctor charged by the federal government with overprescribing drugs. The name clicked with Tyrone Police Det. Dean Johnson as he heard and read the news about the grisly deaths in June of professional wrestler Chris Benoit and his wife and young son in neighboring Peachtree City, another suburb about 45 minutes south of Atlanta. When it did, Johnson flashed back to a 911 call from 16 months earlier, one that rang in to the Tyrone Police Department late in the morning on Feb. 16, 2006.
Why have so many professional wrestlers died before their time? One retired wrestler says the answer isn't just the steroids that have been such a big part of the sport's culture. Lex Luger says it's also partly because the fast times, high life and physical stress of the circuit can easily lead to a dependence on painkillers and other narcotics. How does he know? He nearly became one of the fatalities. Now he shares what he calls "confessions of a drug abuser" with ESPN.com investigative reporter Mike Fish.
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Eric Zinck, who describes himself as Durham's "best friend," says he made the trek to the drugstore for Durham's last refill. Zinck, too, was one of Astin's patients.
Penny Durham knew about her late husband's demons. She witnessed the dark side of his Soma addiction and his earlier steroid use, but she says she didn't have a clue about Astin's alleged role in his life. She didn't become aware of Astin, she says, until more than a year after her husband's death -- and after she attended the funeral for her friend, Nancy Benoit -- when investigators showed up at her door with the doctor's name.