Doctor Probed In Death Of 2nd Pro Wrestler

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A sign on the front door of the building housing the office of Dr. Phil Astin, in Carrollton, Ga., is shown on Thursday, June 28, 2007.
AP

Federal authorities have already indicted Dr. Phil Astin on seven counts of over-prescribing painkillers and other drugs to two of his patients, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

"Dr. Astin allegedly prescribed these drugs like candy without regard for appropriate medical practice or recipients' health," said U.S. Attorney David Nahmias.

Now the Georgia doctor facing life in prison on those charges is also under the microscope for the deaths of two pro wrestlers who were his patients: Michael Durham, AKA Johnny Grunge, who died in his sleep in February 2006, and Chris Benoit, WWE's star wrestler whose shocking death ignited an investigation into prescription drug and steroid abuse.

Police found anabolic steroids prescribed by Dr. Astin inside Benoit's home after he allegedly strangled his wife and son before hanging himself in late June.

According to the search warrant, Astin had prescribed Benoit with a ten-month supply of steroids every three to four weeks between May of 2006 and May of this year.

Still, Astin has not been charged in connection with the Benoit case, adds Miller.

"There's no link to steroids charged against him — there's nothing," said Manny Arora, Dr. Astin's attorney. "There's nothing sensational in this case."

Steroid use has greatly increased in sports from baseball to wrestling over the last decade.

Sportswriter Luis Fernando Llosa has been investigating their use by pro athletes, and he suggests that the time has come for regulating pro wrestling.

"They are dying at 10 to 20 percent higher rates than other people their age," said Llosa of Sports Illustrated.

Toxicology reports on Michael Durham are pending, and Benoit's are due out this week. The Drug Enforcement Administration, now in charge of the investigation, told CBS that Astin has plead not guilty and faces 20 years for each of the counts against him.