Benoit tests show major brain damage — (Florida Sun Sentinal)

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South Florida Sun-Sentinel

By Alex Marvez

September 7, 2007

When friends of Chris Benoit said the late World Wrestling Entertainment star must have lost his mind when murdering his family and then committing suicide, they were on to something.

Medical-test results released Wednesday by the Sports Legacy Institute revealed that Benoit had suffered major brain damage from his 22-year pro wrestling career and that his heinous actions may have stemmed from it.

Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at West Virginia University and a founding member of the Sports Legacy Institute, said during a Wednesday news conference that it was “shocking to see the extent” of Benoit’s brain injuries after studying tissue taken during an autopsy. Benoit killed his wife, Nancy, and 7- year-old son, Daniel, in late June at their Atlanta-area home before hanging himself.

“When I first talked to the doctors about this, what they told me is that (the brain damage) had taken away his ability to make rational decisions and control his emotions,” said Michael Benoit, who allowed the Sports Legacy Institute to examine his son. “Given the circumstances of what happened, you could only imagine what went on in the house that night.”

Michael Benoit said he’d kept in regular contact with his son but didn’t understand the extent of his mental illness until reading a diary that Chris had kept after the steroid- related death of close friend Eddie Guerrero in 2005.

“I would have thought it was written by someone extremely disturbed at the time,” Michael Benoit said.

Chris Benoit had established himself as arguably pro wrestling’s finest technical performer, but the former WWE world champion clearly paid a physical price. Michael Benoit said his son had confessed to having “numerous concussions” but never showed any effects of those blows in the ring.

Bailes and colleague Dr. Richard Cantu said there’s no evidence that steroid use was a potential cause for Benoit’s brain damage. Both doctors acknowledged that there was no way to tell whether Benoit’s actions were in some way influenced by the use of steroids.

Benoit, 40, was found with a large dose of muscle-enhancing testosterone in his system as well as anti-depression medication and a strong painkiller.

Earlier, it was announced that Benoit’s physician had given him a prescription for Zoloft.