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Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon draws criticism for WWE drug testing policy during her time as CEO.
Critics say that Friday's death of wrestler Eki "Eddie" Fatu, known as "Umaga" and cousin of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, is a further sign of the WWE's lax drug policy and disregard for the welfare of its entertainers, the Greenwich Time reports.
The criticism comes at a time when McMahon, the former WWE CEO, is running for Senate against Sen. Chris Dodd and some other high profile contenders, including former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons.
"The sheer number of deaths raises serious questions about whether or not Linda McMahon, as CEO, has done all she can to stop them," Jim Barnett, campaign manager for Simmons told the Time. "I think most CEOs, if they saw their employees and former employees dropping dead in their 30s and 40s at this astonishing rate would be compelled morally and ethically, if not legally, to get to the bottom of it."
A spokesman for McMahon, who is married to wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, defended the substance abuse policy put in place by WWE.
"Rob Simmons, just like Chris Dodd, is a Washington insider who has never created a single job and is trying to get elected in a year when people want outsiders who will shake up Washington and fix the economy," Ed Patru of the McMahon campaign told the Time. "He's in full-blown attack mode. The reality is that, as CEO, Linda put in place a comprehensive wellness program that includes a strictly enforced substance abuse policy."
In 2005, after wrestling star Eddie Guerrero, 38, died, Vince McMahon said the WWE would begin random drug testing by an independent agency for illicit drugs, steroids and prescription drug abuse among its performers, the Associated Press reported at the time.
The WWE has had a three-strikes policy since February 2007, the Time reports. A WWE spokesman said that Fatu was terminated in June after a second strike against him.
"We asked him to go into rehab and he refused to do so and his contract was terminated," Robert Zimmerman of WWE told the Time.
Zimmerman said he couldn't disclose what Fatu had tested positive for.