Agent says Tiger not subject of criminal investigation in Galea probe
Tiger Woods's agent Mark Steinberg confirmed that Woods spoke with federal investigators about his relationship with Anthony Galea, a Canadian doctor accused of providing human growth hormone (HGH) and the unapproved drug Actovegin to athletes in the United States, but Steinberg said that Woods was not the subject of a criminal investigation.
"Tiger willingly spoke to the authorities and cooperated fully," Steinberg said in an e-mail to the Associated Press. "It was confirmed that
because he did nothing illegal, he is not the subject of any criminal
investigation. Because there is an ongoing investigation involving
others, there will be no further comment." The New York Times first reported that federal on its web site Wednesday that Woods had been interviewed by agents investigating Galea.
The interview with Woods was part of a second round of meetings the authorities are conducting with athletes who have been treated by Galea. This spring, the authorities met with the baseball players Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltranand with several football players.The Times said it did not know what Woods told investigators, but that his statements could become public if used in documents related to the case or if Woods is asked to testify.
The authorities are seeking to use the statements of the athletes to build leverage against Galea, who has denied providing players with performance-enhancing drugs. Galea is also facing charges because, although he is licensed to practice medicine in Canada, he does not have a license to do so in Florida.
On May 18, federal prosecutors announced they had filed a criminal complaint against Galea, charging the 50-year-old doctor with making false statements to federal officials, smuggling, unlawful distribution of HGH, introducing an unapproved drug (Actovegin) into interstate commerce and conspiracy to defraud the United States. In total, Galea faces as many as 28 years in prison for the charges and millions in potential fines.
According to prosecutors, Galea repeatedly entered the United States to treat numerous professional athletes from 2007 to September 2009, including athletes from the NFL, Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour.
"The medical procedures described by the cooperating witness that Dr. Galea performed in the United States included but were not limited to a plasma rich platelet (PRP) injections, injection of drug mixtures or 'cocktails' into athletes' knees; IV drips; and ultrasounds and injections of drug mixtures into the sites of muscle tears," the complaint said. "The PRP procedure involved withdrawing blood from a patient, spinning it in a centrifuge, and re-injecting the plasma into the patient's body at the site of an injury. The cooperating witness said this procedure was designed to speed the healing process. The cooperating witness said injections into the sites of muscle tears contained Actovegin, as did the IV drips. The cooperating witness also sad Dr. Galea would at times inject a cocktail containing HGH into an athlete. The cooperating witness said HGH injections were designed to help regenerate cartilage growth."
Several reports identified the cooperating witness as Galea's former assistant Mary Ann Catalano.
At the Masters in April, Woods said that federal investigators had contacted his agent, Mark Steinberg, about the Galea probe, but did not ask to interview him at that time. During that same media conference, Woods unequivocally denied taking any performance-enhancing drugs and said that Galea was treating his left leg after Woods's knee surgery in 2008.
"(Galea) never gave me HGH or any PEDs. I've never taken that my entire life. I've never taken any illegal drug, ever, for that matter," Woods said, going on to explain that Galea had given him "platelet-enriched plasma treatments," the blood-spinning technique described in the complaint.
According to The Times, "plasma replacement therapy is legal and permitted by professional sports leagues in North American, although the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits it without prior approval." Updated July 1, 2010. 11:49 a.m. EST