A New York lawmaker is recommending mandatory drug testing for professional wrestlers competing in his state, saying it’s not a jab at the simulated violence but a way to protect children trying to emulate their heroes.
“Almost all other major professional sports have adopted similar requirements for legal participation,” said Republican Sen. Thomas Libous.
Drug testing as part of the state’s licensing requirements would show fans the wrestlers are drug-free, plus it would improve the level of competition and protect the wrestlers’ health, he said. World Wrestling Federation officials say it’s a plan that hits below the belt.
“We are performers, we are showmen, he’d be drug testing everyone on Broadway. He’d be drug testing the circus,” said WWF Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon.
“If in fact he’s trying to single us out, that is unconstitutional,” McMahon said.
Wrestlers seeking licenses to compete in New York already must give references, divulge any criminal history and submit to a pre-match physical.
Libous’ proposal would take that a step further by adding the drug tests and punishment for wrestlers who fail them.
Wrestlers who tested positive for drugs one time would be prohibited from wrestling in the state for 24-hours under the proposal. A second positive test would strip them of the license for a year and fine their sponsors $25,000. A third would mean a permanent ban from New York competition and $100,000 fine for the sponsors.
Alan Sharp, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling said he could not comment on the proposal without having seen it.
But Sharp and McMahon said WCW and WWF wrestlers undergo pre-employment drug tests, and the WCW randomly tests its employees. The WWF said it reserves the right to test anyone who exhibits signs of drug use.
New York would not be the first state to mandate drug tests for pro wrestlers. Last July, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber led an effort to preserve that state’s mandatory drug testing. The WWF is currently boycotting the state because of its intense wrestling licensing requirements, McMahon said.
McMahon also disagreed with Libous statements that professional wrestlers are role models.
“We have roles that we play,” he said, “but under no circumstances do we hold ourselves out as role models.”