Do WWE Wrestlers Use Steroids? (The Truth Exposed)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: April 2, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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As a professional MMA fighter, I've been around the block in the world of professional athletics, where the use of steroids often becomes a heated topic of debate.

Just like in MMA, WWE wrestlers are frequently under scrutiny for steroid use, with suspensions not being uncommon. Driven by my curiosity and experience in understanding physical transformations, I dedicated two weeks to meticulously analyzing the physical changes of several prominent WWE wrestlers.

My goal was to uncover telltale signs of steroid use, if any, before jumping to conclusions.

Here's the insight I've gained.

Quick Summary

  • WWE wrestlers, like many pro athletes, face speculation about steroid use, with some admitting to it and others facing suspension for misuse.
  • Signs of steroid abuse include gynecomastia, jawline changes, eye conditions, severe acne, mood swings, voice deepening, and excessive hair growth.
  • Approximately 50% of anabolic steroid abusers develop severe acne, indicating its prevalence among WWE wrestlers, as per a 2007 study in the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology.
  • As a professional MMA fighter, I've seen the pressure athletes face to maintain peak performance, which can lead to risky choices like steroid use, despite serious health risks and strict WWE drug policies.

How to Tell if WWE Wrestlers Use Steroids?

Man boobs and swollen jawline

Determining steroid use in WWE wrestlers is challenging, but signs like gynecomastia (man boobs), a swollen jawline, or acne can be strong indicators.

In my time as a professional MMA fighter, I've also learned there's no surefire way to tell if someone's using steroids, but some signs can be strong indicators.

Gynecomastia

One telltale sign is gynecomastia, or "man boobs," where fat builds up under the skin due to testosterone converting to estrogen, as per a study from the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology [1].

Steroid users experience breast enlargement during the time they're on steroids.

This enlargement often occurs during steroid use and sometimes persists even after stopping, requiring surgery to fix it.

Jawline Changes and Swelling

In the ring, I've noticed steroids can alter a fighter's jawline, giving them a square, swollen face—changes that sometimes remain post-steroid use.

"Steroid users also experienced adverse side effects, including mood changes, insomnia, increased blood pressure, acne, and abnormal cholesterol levels, further underscoring the potentially harmful nature of these substances."

-Kyle T. Ganson, an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto

Eyes

An eye with a yellow mark

Research, like the one published in the Acta Ophthalmologica journal, has shown that steroids may cause infections and yellow eyes after a few weeks of usage [2].

Some even report increased eye pressure shortly after use.

Acne

Acne is another critical indicator of steroid abuse, especially in young men 18–26 years old.

According to the 2007 Journal of the German Society of Dermatology study, this happens because anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) increase the amount of skin oil generated in skin pores, leading to acne in about 50% of AAS abusers [3].

Mood Swings

A person having a mood swing

Research conducted by Cambridge University has indicated that anabolic-androgenic steroid misuse causes anxiety, major depression, mania, hypomania, paranoia, anger (roid rage), and suicidal tendencies [4].

A 1988 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry noted that among 41 athletes using steroids, 22% showed full affective syndrome and 12% displayed psychotic symptoms [5].

The National Institute of Drug Abuse states that the mood and behavioral effects seen during AAS abuse may result from secondary hormonal changes [6].

A study has also revealed that some users resort to drugs like heroin or opioids to ease some AAS adverse effects.

Most announced that they used these drugs to counteract depression, insomnia, and irritability from steroid withdrawal.

Deeper Voice

Studies have shown that AAS abuse causes the development of male characteristics, including a change in voice, whether you are a male or a female.

The vocal folds increase in length and thicken, which causes the natural frequency of their voice to lower.

While the changes to the voice may be permanent, the effects of AAS on the female voice could change with androgenic steroid therapy, per a study from the Clinical State Reports study [7].

Excess Body and Facial Hair

Excess body hair

Hirsutism, or excess body and facial hair, is a common steroid side effect. Women might also notice changes in hair texture and color.

These are some of the many indicative signs that someone is using steroids.

Baldness

Long-term steroid use can thin scalp hair, particularly along the hairline. Factors like dosage, duration, family history, and age affect this, with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) being a primary culprit.

Why Do WWE Wrestlers Use Steroids?

A huge bicep muscle

WWE wrestlers may use steroids primarily to build lean muscle mass and enhance performance, similar to motivations in other competitive sports.

Most users and fellow athletes I spoke with claimed that they began using steroids when weight training alone was no longer sufficient for them to continue getting bigger.

Beyond steroids, Human Growth Hormone (HGH), also known as gonadotropin, is commonly used. It's not rare for wrestlers to combine steroids with HGH, aiming for a more sculpted physique, reflecting the high physical demands and aesthetic expectations in professional wrestling.

“Misuse of anabolic agents is dangerous to an athlete’s health and should be avoided by athletes of all ages and levels.”

– Dr Laura Lallenec, Sport Integrity Australia’s Medical Advisor

However, this can cause addiction and other undesirable long-term effects, including cardiovascular complications, liver disease, reproductive organ damage, and severe mood swings.

That said, I always encourage my clients to use only the best legal steroids:

WWE’s Wellness Program

A female researcher and WWE logo

The company administered a wellness program on February 27, 2006, in response to accusations concerning widespread AAS abuse, particularly after the demise of Eddie Guerrero.

The WWE Talent Wellness Program is independently conducted by a team of medical professionals and covers the following:

  • Substance abuse and drug testing – WWE prohibits using performance-enhancing drugs, stimulants, pseudoephedrine, narcotic analgesics, etc.
  • Cardiovascular testing – All WWE wrestlers undergo a cardiovascular test before being hired and twice a year while under contract.
  • ImPACT testing – All wrestlers undergo brain processing speed, memory, and reaction time tests.
  • Healthcare referrals – WWE offers wrestlers referrals to top-notch healthcare experts who can provide help with any potential problems.

Drug Policy

WWE wrestlers are not allowed to take anabolic steroids, which include androstenediol, androstenedione, bolasterone, and boldenone.

Besides anabolic steroids, WWE's wellness policy bans substances like diuretics, muscle relaxers, and illegal drugs, including cocaine and marijuana.

The 2007 release of Eddie Fatu (Umaga) due to steroid use underscores their strict stance.

The policy also targets test manipulation, outlawing masking agents like probenecid, which reduces steroid detection, and any form of urine sample tampering. Violations lead to severe penalties.

It is not uncommon for WWE wrestlers to break the wellness policy rules. Few had had to be suspended in numerous instances in the past when they tested positive. 

Wrestlers have been suspended for positive drug tests, and incidents like Chris Benoit's untimely death, linked to performance-enhancing drugs, raise questions about enforcement effectiveness.

While comprehensive drug testing for all wrestlers would clarify adherence, currently, there's no foolproof method to ensure complete compliance.

WWE Wrestlers Who Have Used Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Hulk Hogan close up image

From my experience in the fighting world, admitting to steroid use in WWE is risky due to legal and career implications.

Yet, some wrestlers have come clean.

Hulk Hogan, a wrestling icon, initially denied but later admitted to using steroids for 14 years amid intense media scrutiny.

Scott Hall also confirmed his steroid use.

Several other wrestlers are linked to steroid misuse, including Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Randy Orton, the Ultimate Warrior.

Adam Copeland (Edge) confessed to steroid use in 2005, which was later revealed to include growth hormones.

Accusations extend to other stars like Vince McMahon, John Cena, Dave Bautista (Batista), and Ettore Ewen (Big E), though they haven't failed drug tests.

While exact numbers are unknown, the issue of steroid use in WWE is notably prevalent.

FAQs

Does WWE Prohibit the Use of Steroids?

Yes, WWE prohibits the use of steroids. They have a Wellness Program which tests for steroids and other banned substances. If wrestlers are caught using steroids, they will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include fines, suspension, or termination.

When Did WWE Start Testing for Steroids?

WWE started steroid testing in 1991. However, they only did a limited number of tests, which were not very rigorous. It wasn't until 2003 that they implemented a more comprehensive testing program.

How Long Do Steroids Remain in Our System?

Steroids can remain in our system for up to 14 days if taken orally. However, how long the effect will remain depends on how much you’ve used, your size, and what other substances you might have taken.

What Are the Penalties for a Positive Test?

The penalties for a positive test in WWE are suspension, fines, withheld pay, and being forced to leave WWE. Suspension can range from 30 days to a year, depending on the substance and the number of times the athlete has failed a drug test.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16386416/
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1755-3768.2008.01238.x
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17274777/
  4. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/advances-in-psychiatric-treatment/article/anabolic-androgenic-steroids-what-the-psychiatrist-needs-to-know/38A5531F66EE651A75DFB4EB5FB8962F
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3279830/
  6. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/anabolic-steroids
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6509898/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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