WWE Diva Paige has been suspended from the organization for the second time in less than two months for violating its wellness policy.
The two-time WWE Divas champion was suspended for 30 days, starting Aug. 18, and the company announced Monday in a short statement that she was suspended for 60 days for a second violation “effective immediately.” If she violates the policy again, she will be out of the league.
Paige (real name: Saraya-Jade Bevis) defended herself on Twitter Monday. “Same s*** different day,” she wrote. “Kids … Please don’t get prescriptions or doctors notes. Not acceptable … Rules apply depending on your status.”
Her father, Ricky Knight, also spoke out about the suspension on Facebook. “Once again, she has not failed a drug test,” he wrote. “My daughter has had a long-term neck injury which IMO has not been dealt with.” Knight says Paige has been “in pain and out of in-ring action for a fair while now.” She’s also been prescribed painkillers that “apparently is against the wellness program.” “To say I am p***ed off with the situation is an understatement,” he added.
Paige has been open about her neck pain, tweeting in late September that it’s “time to get the neck fixed so I can come back and kick some a**.”
Paige said her previous suspension was because of a “procedural issue.” She said on Twitter in mid-September that she wasn’t at home at the time of the test but drove 200 miles to take it. However, she missed the deadline set by the administrator, even though she passed the test. “Let me be clear that I was not suspended for failing a drug test,” she wrote at the time.
The WWE’s lengthy wellness policy can be found online. The policy lists a number of drugs that its wrestlers cannot use, including muscle relaxers, stimulants, human growth hormone, and the common nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine if used “in a manner which is inconsistent with the instructions provided by the drug manufacturer.”
However, the WWE’s policy includes this statement: “WWE recognizes that many of the drugs prohibited by this Policy are prescription medications that serve essential or beneficial purposes for the health and well-being of WWE Talent, and nothing in this Policy is intended to discourage the proper use of prescription medications. Conversely, there are some prescription medications that, even when used properly, may affect safety or health and some prescription medications that can be abused and affect safety and health.”
The WWE has had a history of wrestlers with health problems linked to drug abuse. The company started its wellness policy in 2006 after the death of wrestler Eddie Guerrero, who was 38. Guerrero took two forms of steroids before his death, as well as the estrogen-blocker anastrozole, a drug often taken by men who abuse steroids to prevent breast tissue from growing, the New York Daily News reported at the time. Fellow wrestler Chris Benoit killed himself and his family in 2007, and toxicology reports found that he had 10 times more testosterone than normal in his system. That same year, the Albany, N.Y., district attorney began a probe into Internet doping in professional wrestling.
Women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Yahoo Beauty that the situation is confusing. “The WWE states that it recognizes that many of the drugs banned by its policy are prescription medications that can serve essential purposes for the health/well-being of its athletes [and] that it isn’t meant to discourage the proper use of prescription drugs,” she says. “Paige publicly stated that she had a doctor’s note for medication to help her neck injury.”
Wider says the WWE’s list of banned drugs is “very extensive” and covers a large list of drugs that span many medication classes. “There are definitely painkillers and muscle relaxants on the list that would be appropriate if an athlete has a neck injury, if prescribed by a doctor,” she says. But if abused, those drugs can pose health risks to athletes and cause side effects like dizziness, confusion, and vomiting.
Luga Podesta, MD, director of sports medicine at St. Charles Orthopedics in New York, says athletes can sometimes be found in violation of a wellness policy like this one if they don’t clear a drug with the organization in advance (called a “therapeutic use exemption”), even if they have a doctor’s note. And if a sports organization finds it in routine drug testing, the athlete will be found to be in violation of the policy. “It happens a lot,” Podesta says.
The WWE did not respond to Yahoo’s request for comment.