Another chapter in the Chris Benoit tragedy came to a close Tuesday when Benoit's personal doctor was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Newnan, Ga., for illegally prescribing painkillers and other drugs to patients.
Dr. Phil Astin, who also had other pro wrestlers as patients, had pleaded guilty in January to a 175-count federal indictment that accused him of writing illegal prescriptions to known drug abusers,
Obviously, there can never be any kind of happy ending to the Benoit story, but at least justice was served in this instance, in my opinion.
I'm a strong believer in personal responsibility, so Benoit absolutely should be held accountable for killing his wife, Nancy, and young son, Daniel nearly two years ago. However, I also find the actions of a doctor who enabled his patients' dangerous and self-destructive choices to be almost as reprehensible. Doctors literally hold people's lives in their hands, because with the stroke of a pen, they can write a prescription that can be detrimental to a patient and others that they come in contact with.
From reports that came out in the aftermath of the Benoit family's deaths, Astin apparently was a mark for wrestlers and had autographed photos of Benoit and other wrestling stars in his office (Mike "Johnny Grunge" Durham, who died in his sleep in 2006 at 39, also was a patient of Astin). The sad fact is that had Astin not prescribed the drugs for Benoit and other wrestlers, some other "mark" doctor would have.
"I am sorry I hurt so many lives," Astin said during his sentencing. "I was thinking that I was looking after my patients."
Fortunately, he'll have plenty of time to do a lot more thinking about the decisions he made. I wonder if he still thinks those autographed photos and "friendships" with the wrestlers were worth it.