New investigation alleges culture of cheating, drugs in wake of US Navy SEAL training death

Kyle Mullen, a 24-year-old SEAL candidate, died hours after completing the seals' infamous "hell week" in February

ByMartha Raddatz via ABCNews logo
Thursday, September 1, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

A recent report alleges some Navy SEALs candidates are using performance-enhancing drugs to get an edge.

A recent report alleges some Navy SEALs candidates are using performance-enhancing drugs to get an edge.

The stunning allegations are now rocking one of the most elite military units in the world, claiming a dangerous and sometimes deadly training culture.

A New York Times investigation found widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs among SEAL trainees determined to make the cut to become one of the few to make it through the SEAL selection.

According to the Times, a navy investigation into the death of a SEAL recruit in February concluded that "about 40 candidates had either tested positive or had admitted using steroids or other drugs in violation of navy regulations."

The findings are coming to light after Kyle Mullen, a 24-year-old SEAL candidate, died hours after completing the SEALs' infamous "Hell Week" earlier this year.

"I said that the Navy is going to kill him and it's unfortunate. I really did say that. And that's what happened, said Mullen's mother, Regina Mullen.

According to the report, the Navy reportedly found evidence that Mullen was possibly using drugs, adding that "they discovered syringes and performance enhancing drugs in his car."

His mother Regina said Kyle considered taking steroids but is adamant that he never did. She said she believes they belonged to others with whom he was hanging out.

"He found out about the men doing steroids and I was not happy about that. Of course, he said that he felt that he may have to do it to get to Hell Week," Regina said. "And apparently he talked to his brother and his brother told him that he never had to do that before in his life. Why start now? And if others could get through without it, he should be able to do it too. He was a natural athlete."

RELATED: Mom of Navy SEAL candidate who died after 'Hell Week' says tragedy could have been prevented

Mullen's autopsy, which was performed by a U.S. military medical examiner, showed no sign of drugs in his system at the time of his death. However, they did cite the cause of death as bacterial pneumonia.

Mullen was seen coughing up blood and repeatedly receiving oxygen throughout the week after grueling training, which is meant to push candidates to their mental and physical limits.

His mother said he was abandoned at his weakest moment, right after Hell Week was complete.

"Ultimately, if he would have been sent to the E.R. hospital right when he secured Hell Week Friday morning, he'd be alive today," Regina said.

"You start every conversation in the world and debate about the training, what people are calling torture and everything else, but they didn't give Kyle basic medical care. And that's what this is all about. And that needs to change now," said Kevin Uniglicht, the Mullen family attorney.

As the Navy carries out its investigation, demand for answers is growing over whether SEAL training goes too far, and whether some of those who strive to join that elite unit will do anything to survive the test.

"The moral, the character and the leadership traits are as important as having a super athlete. It's as important to have a sounded moral person on the battlefield," said ABC News contributor and retired Navy SEAL commander, Eric Oehlerich.