By GREG BLUESTEIN
Associated Press Writer
DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - Pro wrestler Chris Benoit had more than 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system when he killed his wife and young son and hanged himself, but investigators could not say if it played a role in the killings.
Besides the heightened level of testosterone, a synthetic version of the primary male sex hormone that is considered an anabolic steroid, Benoit's body tested positive for the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the painkiller hydrocodone, authorities said Tuesday.
Dr. Kris Sperry, the state's top medical examiner, said it appeared the testosterone was injected shortly before Benoit died.
He said there was no evidence of any other steroids in the wrestler's body, and nothing to show that steroids played a role in the death of Nancy and Daniel Benoit. He also said Daniel, 7, appeared to have been sedated when he was asphyxiated, and Benoit's wife had a "therapeutic" level of sedatives in her body.
There is no consensus that the use of testosterone can contribute to paranoia, depression and violent outbursts known as "roid rage," Sperry pointed out.
"There is conflicting scientific data as to whether or not testosterone creates mental disorders or leads to outbursts of rage. There's data that suggests it and other data that refute it," he said. "Essentially, I think it's an unanswerable question."
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Chris Benoit tested negative for alcohol. Investigators had been eager to determine whether alcohol was a factor in the killings after 10 empty beer cans were found in the home, as well as an empty wine bottle a few feet from where Benoit hanged himself.
Benoit killed his wife and son, placed Bibles next to their bodies and then hanged himself on the cable of a weight machine. After the slayings, prescription anabolic steroids were found in the family's home, raising questions about whether the drugs played a role in the killings.
Nancy Benoit tested positive for Xanax, hydrocodone and the painkiller hydromorphone. Daniel Benoit had Xanax in his system, authorities said. The GBI said it could not perform tests for steroids or human growth hormones on the boy because of a lack of urine.
Nancy Benoit's body had a blood-alcohol level of 0.184 percent, more than twice the level at which Georgia law considers a driver intoxicated. But, Sperry said, that level may have been affected by decomposition.
Federal authorities have charged Chris Benoit's personal physician, Dr. Phil Astin, with improperly prescribing painkillers and other drugs to two patients other than Benoit. He has pleaded not guilty.
Investigators have also raided Astin's office several times since the deaths, seizing prescription records and other documents.
Before he was charged, Astin told the AP he had prescribed testosterone for Benoit, a longtime friend, in the past. He would not say what, if any, medications he prescribed when Benoit visited his office June 22, the day authorities believe Benoit killed his wife.
World Wrestling Entertainment last screened Benoit for steroids in April. It said the results released Tuesday were proof Benoit did not test positive for illegal substances.
"All it means is that scientifically, it's now known that sometime between April 10 and when he died, he had treatment with testosterone," said Jerry McDevitt, a WWE attorney. "That's all it establishes."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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