Toronto doctor charged with providing HGH
A Toronto sports doctor who has treated Tiger Woods and other high profile athletes was charged Tuesday in the United States with conspiring to lie to federal officials, smuggling and the unlawful distribution of human growth hormone.
In a federal criminal complaint filed in a Buffalo court, Dr. Anthony Galea was also charged with introducing the unapproved drug Actovegin into interstate commerce and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
"Today's complaint reveals that those responsible for the flow of illegal drugs into our country can come from all walks of life," said U.S. Attorney William Hochul.
Galea could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the smuggling charge. None of the charges against Galea have been proven in court.
Galea's Canadian lawyer, Brian Greenspan, called the new charges "disappointing."
"It is regrettable that Dr. Galea, a world renowned and respected sports medicine physician, now faces these further charges," Greenspan said in a statement. "Dr. Galea looks forward to the opportunity to respond to these allegations at the appropriate time."
Galea is renowned for his work treating athletes with platelet-rich plasma therapy, which uses the patient's own blood to speed up healing from injuries. Woods has admitted being treated by Galea at his Florida home, but denied he had been given performance-enhancing or illegal substances.
The court documents allege Galea travelled to the U.S. to provide athletes with human growth hormone (HGH) and other unapproved substances. According to Hochul, Galea, who is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S., entered the country numerous times between 2007 and 2009 to treat professional baseball and football players, as well as pro golfers.
The athletes' names are not listed in the criminal complaint. However, an affidavit alleges Galea travelled to various U.S. cities to meet with athletes in either hotel rooms or in their homes.
Documents obtained by TSN and ESPN allege 23 unnamed athletes were treated by Galea last summer in cities across the U.S., from Boston to San Diego and points in between.
The affidavit lists three unnamed National Football League players: one who allegedly was treated with HGH after he retired, and another two who were treated by Galea but say they did not receive HGH or other substances banned by the league.
The affidavit alleges that Galea treated athletes with his platelet-rich plasma therapy treatment in addition to offering other medical services, including giving "injections of drug mixtures into the sites of muscle tears."
"Dr. Galea would at times inject a cocktail containing HGH into an athlete," the Immigration and Customs Enforcement affidavit said.
In a statement, the NFL said it has not been told the identity of the three players mentioned in the affidavit.
"We obviously have a very strong interest in learning who these players are and about their involvement with any prohibited substances so that we can enforce our policies," the statement reads. "When we have had evidence of illegal purchase, possession or use of HGH, we have imposed discipline and are fully prepared to do so again if the facts support it."
The league said it plans to co-operate with officials as the case against Galea moves forward.
Galea, the former doctor for the Toronto Argonauts, came under the scrutiny of law-enforcement officials last September when his assistant was stopped leaving Canada with what they allege was Actovegin, a drug that is extracted from calf's blood and is believed to speed recovery from injuries. The drug is not approved in Canada, though it is available here and is approved for use in some European countries.
Last December, the RCMP levelled four charges against Galea after a three-month investigation and a search of his Toronto medical facilities.
Galea faces the following charges in Canada:
- Selling an unapproved drug (Actovegin) contrary to Section 9 (1) of the Food and Drugs Act
- Conspiracy to import an unapproved drug contrary to Section 465 (1)(c) of the Criminal Code of Canada
- Conspiracy to export a drug contrary to Section 465 (3) of the Criminal Code of Canada
- Smuggling goods into Canada contrary to Section 159 of the Customs Act
RCMP investigators allege that Galea illegally imported and smuggled drugs into Canada and that these drugs were administered to patients. Authorities also allege Galea conspired to export the drugs to the United States.
None of the allegations against Galea have been proven in court.
At the time Galea was charged by the RCMP, Greenspan said the small amount of HGH found in Galea's office was not for use on professional athletes.
With a report from CTV's John Vennavally-Rao and files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press