ATLANTA - Chris Benoit's mother said she wonders whether her son would still be alive if federal agents had been more aggressive when they discovered the professional wrestler was buying large quantities of steroids.
The Drug Enforcement Administration acknowledged this week that Benoit's name surfaced in an investigation before he killed his wife, son and himself. But Benoit wasn't charged, and his supply continued until at least May, a month before the murder-suicide, according to a review of records by The Associated Press.
DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said "it's ridiculous for anyone to think we could have known that anything like that could have happened."
But Benoit's mother said she is also concerned by another disclosure that police were previously aware Benoit's doctor, Phil Astin, may have been improperly prescribing medications.
Asked whether quicker action by authorities could have helped her son, Margaret Benoit said in a telephone interview from her home in Alberta, Canada, "We would certainly hope so. We just don't know. We're dealing with so many things. It's incredible."
The case highlights the DEA's focus on drug traffickers rather than individual users, even when those users are star athletes and celebrities. The targets of the BALCO investigation, for instance, weren't the baseball players and runners who allegedly bought steroids but the distribution network that sold them.
"We can arrest and prosecute users, but they are not the target or focus of most investigations," Payne said.
Astin was charged Monday, more than a week after the killings, with improperly prescribing medications to two patients, but not Benoit.
"You don't run out and arrest a doctor for making one prescription that is questionable," Payne said. "There's just not enough evidence to arrest or bring charges. We want to bring charges that are legitimate. Cases take time."
Authorities found anabolic steroids in Benoit's home in suburban Atlanta, leading officials to wonder whether the drugs played a role in the killings that started June 22.
A DEA agent's affidavit said Astin prescribed a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit every three to four weeks between May 2006 and May 2007. It says that during a probe called "RX Weight Loss," Benoit was identified as an excessive purchaser of injectable steroids.
The affidavit also says that "Astin has been the subject of concern for excessive and/or suspicious prescribing activity by the Carrollton, Ga. Police Department and local area pharmacies."