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Benoit’s testosterone levels were elevated

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

DECATUR, Ga. – Pro wrestler Chris Benoit had more than 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system when he hanged himself in his home after killing his wife and 7-year-old son last month. But did that have anything to do with the slayings?

“I think it’s an unanswerable question,” said Dr. Kris Sperry, Georgia’s top medical examiner.

Test results released Tuesday neither bolstered nor entirely debunked speculation that anabolic steroids might have led Benoit, a wrestler with a family-man image, to commit the shocking crimes. Some experts believe steroids can cause paranoia, depression and violent outbursts known as “roid rage,” but Sperry noted that there is no consensus on the issue.

Steroids were found in the Benoits’ gated home, but Sperry said there was no evidence of any besides testosterone in the wrestler’s body, and nothing to indicate the drugs played a role in the deaths of Nancy and Daniel Benoit.

Even the high levels of testosterone should not be overanalyzed, Sperry warned. They could indicate the wrestler was being treated for “testicular insufficiency,” he said.

In the end, he said, authorities will never know whether the steroid could have caused the murderous outburst. Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated 7-year-old Daniel, placed Bibles next to their bodies and then hanged himself on the cable of a weight machine June 22.

The testosterone, a synthetic version of the primary male sex hormone, appeared to have been injected shortly before Benoit died, Sperry said. Benoit’s body also contained the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the painkiller hydrocodone, authorities said.

Daniel appeared to have been sedated when he was asphyxiated, and Nancy Benoit had a “therapeutic” – not toxic – level of sedatives in her body, Sperry said.

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.

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.

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 hormone on the boy because of a lack of urine.

World Wrestling Entertainment last screened Chris Benoit for steroids in April. It said the results released Tuesday were proof he did not test positive.

“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.”

Fayette County prosecutor Scott Ballard, when asked whether tests on the wrestler produced more questions than answers, mustered just a few meek words.

“Maybe a little of both,” he sighed.

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.

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