Doctor charged with administering HGH was headed for appointment with Washington Redskins player

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 19, 2010; D01

A Canadian doctor intended to bring human growth hormone and at least one unapproved drug to a medical treatment session with a Washington Redskins player at a Washington area hotel last September, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of New York Tuesday and a source with knowledge of the investigation.

The affidavit identified the athlete only as a professional football player in Washington. The complaint charged Toronto-based Anthony Galea, a former team doctor for the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, with illegally bringing human growth hormone into the United States among other federal charges in connection with frequent trips over the border to provide medical treatment to athletes in Major League Baseball, the NFL and the PGA Tour.

Golfer Tiger Woods, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez and a host of other pro athletes have acknowledged receiving medical treatment from Galea since his arrest in Toronto last October, but none has said he knowingly used illegal substances.

Two current NFL players and one former NFL player said they received medical treatment from Galea from a period in 2007 until September 2009 for which they were billed a combined $200,000, according to the complaint. The two current players stated they did not knowingly use human growth hormone (HGH); the former player admitted purchasing HGH "kits" from Galea.

Human growth hormone, a drug believed to promote strength and recovery from injuries, is banned by the NFL and other U.S. professional sports leagues, but none tests for the substance because no reliable urine test has been found. Because of that testing loophole, many believe it is widely abused.

Galea, who is not licensed to practice medicine in the United States, treated athletes during their playing seasons, often employing a procedure known as plasma rich platelet (PRP) injection, which involves withdrawing blood from an athlete, spinning it in a centrifuge and reinjecting it into the body at the site of an injury, according to the affidavit. On at least some occasions, Galea would "inject a cocktail containing HGH into an athlete," in an attempt to regenerate cartilage growth, or Actovegin for muscle tears, the affidavit said.

The affidavit, written by Justin Burnham, a special agent for the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, did not state whether Galea informed his patients of the various substances they might have received.

Because of his arrest in Buffalo last September, Galea did not have the scheduled meeting with the Washington player, who had reserved two District-area hotel rooms for the session, according to the affidavit.

The news came as a shock to some Redskins players, most of whom learned the news from media reports Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm not surprised about anything," Washington fullback Mike Sellers said. "I was reading some of the blogs and some people tried tying me into it. I was like, 'Come on.' It is what it is. The truth will come out."

The Redskins declined to comment, referring questions to the NFL.

"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," NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said in a statement. "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. We have been in touch with law enforcement and will continue to cooperate with the federal authorities as the case moves forward."

A cooperating witness -- Galea's former medical assistant Mary Anne Catalano, her attorney Calvin Barry confirmed -- tipped off authorities to Galea's alleged activities when she was stopped at the U.S.-Canada border last September carrying a variety of substances and medical instruments in her car. She admitted during two days of questioning that she carried Nutropin, a type of human growth hormone; the unapproved drug Actovegin; and a variety of other substances and medications for the planned treatment session with the Washington player, according to the affidavit and Barry.

Catalano "spoke freely and told the truth," Barry said. "She's going to cooperate as she did from the get-go."

She told Canadian authorities Galea treated 23 athletes in eight cities between July.22 and Sept. 14, when he was arrested, reported, citing court documents from Canada.

Galea provided HGH to the Washington player during a visit the previous month, the Web site reported. Earlier in September, he provided Actovegin to a different Washington-area athlete, according to the report.

One of the current NFL players told Burnham he received at least weekly visits from Galea during the season and more frequently when he was injured. He said he received IV drips, knee injections and Vitamin B12 shots in his arm, with typical charges for those services coming to $3,500.

Throughout last summer, Galea treated 11 athletes in Cleveland; three athletes in New York; two each in Boston, Tampa, Fla., and Washington; while visiting single patients in Orlando, San Diego and San Francisco, also reported.

Galea was also charged with illegal importation, making false statements and introducing an unapproved drug into the United States.

Staff writer Rick Maese contributed to this report.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company