[submitted to The New York Times but not published]

"Wrestling Grabs the World by the Neck and Flexes" (April 4)
surveys the latest cliches about the grip of this form of sports
entertainment on late-empire America. Fine.

But your account turns irresponsible when it glibly raises the
subject of steroids in the voice of an 18-year-old and then fails
to report on the topic. My recently published book includes an
appendix listing around 100 wrestlers who have died young in
the last two decades from causes attributable to the industry's
extreme lifestyle; abuse of steroids, human growth hormone,
and painkillers is by far the No. 1 culprit. Dave Meltzer, publisher
of the authoritative
Wrestling Observer Newsletter, calls my
study "very incomplete, to be sure."

Wrestling's pandemic of drug deaths is a precursor of sports
world writ large in the 21st century, and it's not a pretty picture.

Irvin Muchnick
Berkeley, Calif., April 4, 2007

The writer is author of
Wrestling Babylon: Piledriving Tales of
Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal
.
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