PART ONE (Beta Version)
Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Early 1980's.
It looked like any other aging arena in the northeast from the outside. A crude makeshift locker room inside played host to an even cruder makeshift office. A folding table and a few files were all. It wasn't much, but to the customers it was everything. One by one they approached the office, exchanging a few pleasantries before walking away with a paper bag. Inside was any prescription drug a human being could possibly desire --all in large enough quantity to last several weeks. It came at a discount, but transactions of hundreds of dollars were routine. The affable doctor behind the office desk was always adorned in a bowtie --prepared in the event that a stray television camera happened to pass by. He finally felt like a peer to the unique brand of athlete that he grew up idolizing.
The second generation promoter could have done something to stop it, but what the doctor was doing was nothing that wasn't going on elsewhere. Other members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission could have stepped in, but they turned a blind eye. To them it was merely boys being boys. No one knew that years later, death and the strong arm of the law would lay a figurative bodyslam on the makeshift office that reverberated with enough impact to bring those involved most intimately to the brink of collapse.
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Hollywood, California. July, 1988
The use of the studio that the two men occupied made up only a small part of the twenty million dollar budget that the upcoming promotional vehicle and full length feature film No Holds Barred commanded. It was an adventure for both. Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr. had taken a hands on approach to the project, which fell under the Shane Productions branch of the Titan Sports Inc. umbrella. Though one of Hollywood's brightest --and most expensive --scriptwriters was tapped for the project, McMahon modified the story at will, molding it into an art-imitating-art progression in which a diabolical rival promoter with more than subtle similarities to Ted Turner attempted to raid his opposition of their biggest wrestling star. That star was Terry Bollea, better known to most as Hulk Hogan. Bollea wasn't simply along for the ride however. Fifteen months prior, Bollea's Wrestlemania III main event with the beloved "Andre the Giant" earned him the biggest one night payoff in the history of American wrestling. When the t's were crossed and the i's dotted, Bollea's involvement in No Holds Barred would guarantee him a bigger check than Vince McMahon Jr. had ever written to one of his wrestlers.
The time that the two men spent during the filming of No Holds Barred was the most that they would ever spend together. The stayed at the same hotel when they were off set, and shared a trailer when on the set. As business associates, the two men owed each other everything. Bollea's millions could have never been made without McMahon's cunning as a promoter, and McMahon's empire of hundreds of millions of dollars probably couldn't have reached such levels without Bollea as the face of the World Wrestling Federation. As friends, they grew as close as they ever would on those long days of filming in the summer of 1988.
And on this afternoon, Vincent Kennedy McMahon and Terry Bollea shared more than just road stories. On the set of No Holds Barred, Vince McMahon first approached Terry Bollea about steroids. McMahon listened intently as his biggest star explained the ins and outs of the different substances. Bollea briefed McMahon on the best way to cycle the drugs, and most likely showed his employer how to inject himself. That afternoon, "Hulk Hogan" gave McMahon part of his supply --decadorabilin and a bottle of anabar pills to be precise. Bollea didn't mind sharing his stash. "It is similar to how smokers share cigarettes" Hogan would say six years later while under oath.
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Summer, 1989. Greenwich, Connecticut.
As social elite in wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut, the McMahon family were always in demand. Vince McMahon --a self-admitted workaholic -- rarely had the time to mingle. His third wife Linda still managed to find a few hours to let her hair down on occasion however. From humble beginnings, she relished the opportunity to establish herself as a fixture so high on the socialite ladder.
Linda McMahon's desire to be seen set off a chain of events that would save her husband and his World Wrestling Federation on this fateful evening. At what was likely another in a never ending series of stuffy dinner parties in Greenwich, Connecticut, Linda McMahon was having a conversation when the most unusual thing was accidentally mentioned off the cuff. On the outside, Linda McMahon likely played cool and disinterested. On the inside, she knew that it would change everything.
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October 1989. Pennsylvania
The doctor's legitimate medical office was hardly a folding table in the dingy recesses of an aging arena. He didn't make a habit of writing unlimited prescriptions in this venue, but this afternoon he was making an exception.
"I'm giving you better prices than the wrestlers" the doctor said after agreeing to throw in a case of syringes for free.
He had just arranged a near $700 order that included steroids, eighteen vials of various injectable drugs and enough painkillers to ground an elephant. The recipient was William Dunn, and George Zahorian had no idea that he was wearing a wire.
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February 1990. Stamford, Connecticut
One of Vince McMahon's chief aids walked discretely away from World Wrestling Federation offices. Looking over his shoulder to ensure that his privacy would not be compromised, he slowly fed his change into the payphone and began to dial. A payphone was the only way. If the phone call was recorded, the topple of the Titan Sports Inc. would be the least of problems. After a few rings a forty-year-old male answered. There is little doubt that this would be the worst call of Dr. George Zahorian's professional career.
In the midst of a series of mundane conversations at a dinner party, Linda McMahon had heard something that she was never meant to hear. A casual mention had been made in passing of a doctor for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission by the name of George Zahorian according to later accounts by Dave Meltzer. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was hot to him, and it wouldn't be long until the FBI would have a strong enough case to move on the doctor.
The message from Vince McMahon's representative was loud and clear. Any records that linked Titan Sports or Vince McMahon to Zahorian's illegal drug trafficking had to removed from his offices immediately and destroyed.
The doctor had grown up idolizing wrestlers and jumped at the opportunity to work for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission when the opportunity presented itself in the late 1970's. He knew that he would be assigned as Commission doctor at World Wide Wrestling Federation events in Allentown and Hamburg. Doctors like Zahorian were common in wrestling --often referred to behind their back as "jock-sniffers" due to their willingness to break the law in order to feel like one of the boys around the athletes. Sean Waltman, Scott Hall and the charismatic World Wrestling Federation champion "Shawn Michaels" would sometimes drive hours out the way to attend barbeques at the residence of a groupie-like doctor who would return the favor by opening a floodgate of prescription pills to the professional wrestlers. It was just part of the business. Zahorian began distributing controlled substances to professional wrestlers in 1981, and was ecstatic to play his part in the mechanism --until he received that phone call at least.
Almost immediately after the call, a high ranking World Wrestling Federation official by the name of Pat Patterson was having an urgent conversation of his own. It was with the prolific World Wrestling Federation Champion Terry Bollea. Patterson quietly briefed Bollea on the circumstances surrounding Zahorian, and told "Hulk Hogan" in no uncertain terms to cut of all contact with the doctor immediately and to never speak to or do business with him again. Bollea didn't listen. Several days later, he placed a phone call to George Zahorian, presumably about placing another order. Hogan wouldn't get a chance to do so. The doctor who had spent a decade desperately seeking acceptance from his idols would refuse to take the phone call from the biggest star in professional wrestling history.
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March 1990. Pennsylvania
William Dunn once again walked into the door of George Zahorian's medical offices. Dunn was greeted by a very different man. The once jovial doctor was now nervous and reserved according to an account of the afternoon in Sex, Lies and Headlocks. If William Dunn momentarily felt regrets about setting up the doctor, they were likely drowned by thoughts of the cold prison cell he himself would have found himself occupying if not for his cooperation with the feds.
As Dunn walked out of Zahorian's offices with $25,000 worth of drugs, painkillers and steroids, he passed the two federal agents who were walking in with a warrant for the arrest of Dr. George Zahorian. According to Sex, Lies and Headlocks, Zahorian trembled when he saw the agents. Submissively, Zahorian asked permission to call his lawyer.
Moments later, the two agents heard a faint sound in the distance. It was the sound of paper tearing. When they cornered Zahorian, they found him on his knees, nervously clutching a fist full of shredded paper. When the agents pried his hands open, they found the remains of Federal Express receipts. They bared the names of Alfred Hayes and Roddy Piper --two stars of Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation. In his final act before leaving his office in handcuffs, Zahorian was attempting to protect the professional wrestlers who had played a part in landing him in such a dire position.
The effort was in vein. The FBI had been following the paper trail for months, and the names of Vince McMahon and Terry Bollea were all over it. As the hammer was about to come down on the doctor who sacrificed his professional career and freedom to get closer to the wrestlers his substances would end up putting in early graves, the early stages of a case against the wrestling promoter who didn't do a thing to stop it was slowly being built, and it contained enough to potentially put Vincent McMahon Jr. behind bars for a decade.