Florida sheriff says no evidence Washington Capitals involved in steroids use

By Amy Shipley and Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 25, 2010

BARTOW, FLA. -- Two Polk County detectives flew home from Virginia on Wednesday with no evidence that any member of the Washington Capitals had been involved in performance-enhancing drug use, but the steroid investigation that led to Tuesday's arrest of a Reston chiropractor with ties to the team is far from over, the sheriff heading the investigation said.

After interviewing three Capitals players, Coach Bruce Boudreau, assistant coach Dean Evason and trainer Greg Smith at the team's training facility, Polk County investigators "had no reason not to believe them" when all said they had no connection to or knowledge of the alleged steroid dealings of the chiropractor, Douglas Owen Nagel, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Players Eric Fehr, Matt Bradley and Shaone Morrisonn described the interviews as brief, cordial and focused on Nagel rather than the players themselves.

The detectives asked "if we'd seen Dr. Nagel for treatment, and if he tried to give us anything, offer us any substances, and that was basically it," Morrisonn said.

Said Boudreau: "There's nothing to be found there [and] we cooperated fully. So hopefully it's done."

Nagel, 50, who treated several current and former Capitals players, was arrested at his home Tuesday morning and charged with seven counts of solicitation to deliver a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Polk County law enforcement officials allege that Nagel obtained at least seven shipments of steroids and other drugs from Richard "Andy" Thomas of Lakeland, Fla., between April 2008 and May 2009. Thomas, who was arrested last May after more than $200,000 worth of drugs were found in his home, faces a host of federal drug charges.

Noting that his office had not reached even the halfway point of the investigation, Judd said detectives had not found any conclusive evidence that any professional athletes obtained illicit drugs from either Thomas or Nagel.

"Our communication yesterday from the Capitals players was very cooperative and forthright," Judd said. "They didn't relate anything to us we didn't expect to hear. Having said that, we'd have been shocked if one of them said, 'Oh yeah, we all did steroids.' "

Said Judd later: "We believe in our heart of hearts Dr. Nagel was supplying illegal drugs to someone, but we don't know who it is."

Judd said Nagel, a part-time bodybuilder, reiterated Tuesday what he told Polk County law enforcement during an interview on Sept. 28: that he bought drugs from Thomas only for personal use.

"We pressed him on that," Judd said. "He's taking the bump for this. . . . He's not giving anyone up."

Nagel appeared briefly in front of Fairfax County Magistrate Judge Michael J. Cassidy and did not waive his right to challenge his extradition to Florida. He remained at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center with a bond hearing scheduled for Thursday, according to Brian D. West, Nagel's Vienna-based attorney.

West declined to comment on any elements of the case.

Hours before Wednesday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fehr described the interviews with the Polk County investigators as "simple" and not "a big deal." The Capitals provided a private room at the team's Arlington practice facility for the meetings.

"I didn't really have anything to hide, so I had no problem going in there and telling them my side of the story," Fehr said.

Bradley said he had seen Nagel "at least a dozen times," with his most recent visit coming last year. He said he did not notice anything unusual about Nagel or his business.

"He was a good guy, and like I said, I went in there for quick adjustments," he said. "I was in there probably five, 10 minutes at a time. It was adjustments and then I left. There was not much personal talk."

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