A big issue in sports is drug testing. Sometimes, these are done at random. Those who get caught are suspended. Some even appeal those suspensions and get it reduced. I think it is wrong to appeal – just deal with it and accept your punishment. When they get caught, the athletes usually defend themselves by saying “I don’t know how the drug got into my system.” Some also reveal the medication they take for their aches and pains. They also admit that they are unaware the medications contain any type of banned substances. These tests are done to ensure fair play in all sports. In professional wrestling, drug testing is done, and wrestlers are suspended.

According to WWE’s website, a wrestler must agree to a stress test before being offered a contract. This is to ensure the heart is in good condition, and is strong enough to endure the rigors wrestlers face in each match. Some athletes use drugs and attempt to hide the use by consuming diuretics or any other drug that would mask what is in the system. This brings me to what transpired recently with Roman Reigns.

At the Money in the Bank event on June 19th, the then-champion, Roman Reigns was challenged by Seth Rollins for the WWE Title. After a hard fought, exhilarating contest, Rollins won the title after using his pedigree finisher. But, what happened next caused even more drama. As Rollins was celebrating, Dean Ambrose (who won the Money in the Bank briefcase earlier in the night), ran down to the ring, attacked the new champion from behind, and cashed in the contract. In quick fashion, Ambrose won his first WWE Heavyweight Championship. The Las Vegas crowd was ecstatic. But, only two days later, the real reason this transpired was revealed.

The next night on Raw, the WWE announced a three way match for the title between the champion, Ambrose, and the challengers, Reigns and Rollins, for their next event, Battleground. Unfortunately, Roman Reigns will not participate in any of the build up for the match, because on June 21, it was revealed that he violated the company’s Wellness Policy, and was suspended for 30 days, as it was his first offence.

The Policy indicates that it is unacceptable to use drugs, unless there is a legitimate medical reason, and there is a written prescription from a physician. It continues: “The use of masking agents and/or diuretics to conceal or obscure the use of prohibited drugs is also forbidden.” Many wrestlers have been suspended over the years, but I do wonder if the WWE conceal the results for their top superstars, and allow them to continue to wrestle.

In my mind, consuming drugs was an idiotic move on Reigns’ part. The company, more specifically, Vince McMahon, put so much into making him the next big star, and that was the appreciation he showed? Did he not think of the consequences of his action? Why would someone who the company thinks so highly of, do something so stupid? The only positive to come out of this, is that he apologized for his mistake.

Roman’s suspension ends a few days before Battleground. However, I feel the WWE should punish him upon return. I think they should remove him from the match. If they keep him in and he wins, what message will they be sending? That you will get rewarded if you make a mistake? Another way to punish him is to keep him in the match, and let him be the one to get pinned. I also believe that he should not receive another title opportunity the rest of the year. It will be interesting how the WWE handles Reigns’ comeback and the match at Battleground. One thing is for sure, the fans that already boo him, now have even more ammunition to continue to do so upon his return. The negative crowd reaction will get louder, and, it might force the WWE’s hand to turn him heel.

Fans learned about the suspension through wrestling websites and social media. The WWE tried to keep this under wraps, but I am sure deep down, they knew they could not. On the June 27th edition of Monday Night Raw, Seth Rollins addressed the suspension during a promo. He stated that the suspension embarrassed him, and that Reigns never cared what the fans wanted or said because he was “the guy.” Rollins said that Reigns did not deserve to be in the match at Battleground. And, in my mind, he was not wrong in his opinion. How much of the promo was scripted, and how much was ‘off-the-cuff,’ nobody will ever know. But, it seems that despite those views, the WWE will stick with the three way match for the WWE title at Battleground.

The WWE did the right thing by suspending Roman. It is a good way to show that it does not matter if you are receiving a heavy push, or if you are considered a ‘favourite’ among the company’s bosses, or if you are a mid-card wrestler actions must have consequences. And, all talent, no matter their place on the roster, should be treated and punished the same.

Azeem Kayum

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