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Charges possible as office of wrestler's doctor raided

June 29, 2007|Lance Pugmire; Pete Thomas; Diane Pucin | From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Federal drug enforcement investigators raided the office of pro wrestler Chris Benoit's doctor Thursday, and the findings could result in criminal charges by federal prosecutors as soon as today, a law enforcement official said.

Benoit, 40, strangled his wife, Nancy, 43, last Friday and later asphyxiated his 7-year-old son, Daniel, then hanged himself using a weightlifting machine cord over last weekend at their Fayette County, Ga. home.

Benoit's Carrollton, Ga.-based physician, Phil Astin, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he met with the World Wrestling Entertainment star last Friday and previously had prescribed him testosterone to boost levels of the hormone that were in decline -- probably caused by prior steroid use.

Less than 24 hours later, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided Astin's office, focusing on whether Benoit's medical records showed he was prescribed steroids and, if so, whether the prescription was necessary, a law enforcement source told the AP. A DEA spokesman said no arrests were made. Fayette County Dist. Atty. Scott Ballard could not be reached for comment.

Prescription anabolic steroids were found inside Benoit's home by police on Monday, and Benoit was listed as a customer of a Florida clinic whose owners pleaded guilty to illegal steroid distribution this year.

The steroid discovery raised questions about Benoit's state of mind before the killings and his suicide. Steroids can cause violent mood swings, including depression and paranoia.

County authorities continue to investigate what prompted Benoit's attack.

WWE boss Vince McMahon appeared on NBC's "Today" show Thursday and softened from a previous company statement that steroids could not have not resulted in the deaths, saying drug use "may or may not" have triggered the killings.

Several empty beer cans and an empty wine bottle were found inside the Benoit home, Ballard said.

-- Lance Pugmire

COLLEGE BASEBALL

UC Irvine's Serrano named coach of year

UC Irvine's Dave Serrano was named Baseball America's coach of the year.

Serrano led the Anteaters to a school-record 47-17-1 mark and a program-best No. 4 final national ranking. The Anteaters reached the Division I College World Series for the first time, going 2-2 in Omaha.

PRO FOOTBALL

Dolphins waive Evans after arrest over taxi

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Fred Evans, arrested last weekend for refusing to leave a taxi on South Beach and for fighting with police officers, was released by the team.

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Some NFL owners want to close the league's six-team European developmental league because of losses averaging $500,000 annually for each of the NFL's 32 teams, said Kansas City Chiefs President Carl Peterson.

Peterson said financial reports will be studied before decisions are made on NFL Europa.

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Cornerback Ramzee Robinson, who earned the title "Mr. Irrelevant" as the final player selected in the April draft, agreed to a three-year contract with the Detroit Lions, his agent said.

SOCCER

Real Madrid fires Capello despite title

Real Madrid fired Coach Fabio Capello, less than two weeks after he led the Spanish power to its first league title in four years.

Capello, who had two years left on his contract, was fired for the second time by Madrid immediately after winning the league title, the first time in 1997.

MISCELLANY

Messier, Francis lead Hall of Fame class

Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Scott Stevens will go into the Hockey Hall of Fame this fall, and NHL executive Jim Gregory, a former Toronto general manager, will enter as a builder.

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Nashville forward Paul Kariya plans to enter free agency because the Predators are up for sale, General Manager David Poile said.

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A 23-year-old woman found fatally shot in a Phoenix alley has been identified as Leah Tamara Sharpe, the daughter of former UCLA and NFL lineman Luis Sharpe, authorities said.

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Louisville assistant men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies, 45, will replace Reggie Theus as coach at New Mexico State. Theus left to coach the Sacramento Kings.

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Rita Ragone, a makeup artist and hairstylist who worked on the ESPN talk show "Cold Pizza," is suing the sports network in New York, saying she was fired last year after complaining about sexual harassment by host Jay Crawford and commentator Woody Paige.

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Andy Irons defended his Rip Curl Pro Search surfing title with a victory over Damien Hobgood in four-foot waves at Arica, Chile.

-- Pete Thomas

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More than 900 riders are expected Sunday at the Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, a cycling race around Live Oak Park. The women's pro race begins at 10:45 a.m., and the men's pro race at 1 p.m..

-- Diane Pucin

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