WWE announced Wednesday that Randy Orton has been suspended for 60 days for his second violation of the company’s Talent Wellness Program. Though it is his third suspension by the organization, it is only his second suspension to be classified as a Talent Wellness Program infraction.
Orton was first suspended by the organization on April 3, 2006—for 60 days—for “unprofessional conduct,” which did not count as a Wellness Program violation. He smoked marijuana backstage at the March 28, 2006 SmackDown taping, which company employee Bruce Prichard discovered and reported to management. Orton addressed the matter during an interview published in the September 2006 issue of WWE Magazine.
When asked why he “always acting like such an ass,” Orton stated, “My problems came to a head when I decided to smoke a joint and someone smelled it and stooged me off. You know who you are, so if you’re reading this, thanks. But I also had a few outbursts of anger on the road. I get loud and verbally abusive. But I’ve nipped that part of me in the bud. I attended an anger management clinic in Atlanta. It cost 15 grand for a four-week stay. I had to live down there on the campus. The first week I was there, I was like, OK, I’ll do what I have to do to get out of here.” But then I started to realize, wow, I was wrong in a lot of these situations. I just got this reputation of being hard to work with, being a dick and everything in the book. But the truth is, I don’t flip out anymore.”
On August 30, 2007, WWE suspended eleven wrestlers (Booker T, Charlie Haas, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Masters, Edge, Funaki, Gregory Helms, John Morrison, Mr. Kennedy, Umaga and William Regal) based on information provided by the Albany, New York, District Attorney’s Office concerning contracted talent using online pharmaceutical outlet Signature Pharmacy to obtain performance-enhancing drugs and prescription drugs to clients who had not been examined by doctors. Both Sports Illustrated (article) and the Daily News of New York City (article) independently named Orton as a client of the Orlando based pharmacy, which Albany County and Florida law enforcement agencies raided in February 2007. Orton received somatropin, nandrolone, stanozolol between September 2004 and February 2007, which occurred after the “no drugs from online sources” rule was instituted in the Talent Wellness Program. However, he was the lone contracted performer not to be suspended by WWE. Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer reported that WWE took no action against Orton because he had already been suspended in August 2006 (for failing a drug test for a steroid which he not have a prescription for), resulting in double jeopardy. The ruling appeared suspect since Orton continued to receive pharmaceuticals following the suspension. Dr. David L. Black, who administers the program, was asked about the matter on September 25, 2007 during an U.S. Congressional investigation into WWE’s business practices (document).
Brian Cohen, senior investigator and policy advisor for the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asked Black, “There is another talent of Randy Orton who had be suspended in 2006, for not having—tested positive without a prescription, and he was mentioned in this article as well, and subsequently went to headline two pay-per-view events, but in the past month. I just wonder if that kind of—I know the policy would be suspended for 60 days; correct? Does that undermine your efforts when you see this happening, when you see a guy who has been in an article last week and then headlines these events?”
Black replied, “Oh, sure I would agree that that’s not good.”
WWE attorney Jerry S. McDevitt stated in a December 2010 letter to Concussion Inc author Irvin Muchnick that no action was taken against Orton because he was not on any Signature Pharmacy client list provided to WWE by the Albany, New York District Attorney’s Office. WWE, however, did not threaten Sports Illustrated nor the Daily News with legal action regarding the claim.