A doctor who has treated golfer Tiger Woods and many other pro athletes was charged by Canadian authorities on Wednesday with selling an unapproved drug known as Actovegin.
Dr. Anthony Galea, 51, also was charged with conspiracy to import an unapproved drug, conspiracy to export a drug and smuggling goods into Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Galea was arrested Oct. 15 after a search warrant was executed at the Institute of Sports Medicine Health and Wellness Centre near Toronto.
A person familiar with the investigation said it was carried out by with help from the FBI. The person was not authorized to discuss the case and therefore spoke on condition of anonymity.
The investigation began when the doctor’s assistant, who often drove Galea around, was stopped attempting to enter the United States from Canada.
Vials and ampules containing human growth hormone and Actovegin, a drug extracted from calf’s blood, were found in a car driven by Mary Anne Catalano, according to the RCMP and U.S. federal court documents.
Catalano, a Canadian, told American authorities at the border in Buffalo, N.Y., that she knew the drugs were illegal and that she was transporting them for her employer.
In an affidavit, special agent Justin Burnham of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Catalano told agents her boss held no medical licenses in the United States. Catalano also told authorities that her employer instructed her to say she was coming to a medical conference if she were questioned about the purpose of her trip and also to say that none of the equipment was for treating patients.
She told authorities “her employer had had problems attempting to import these same items into the United States on previous occasions and that he had advised her that he was flagged at the border.”
The affidavit says that 20 vials and 76 ampules of “unknown misbranded drugs,” including HGH, and 111 syringes were among the items found in Catalano’s car, along with a medical centrifuge and an ultrasound computer.
Details from court documents of the border stop were first reported by ESPN.com.
The FBI opened an investigation based in part on medical records found on Galea’s computer relating to several professional athletes, people briefed on the inquiry told The New York Times on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
Galea’s lawyer, Brian H. Greenspan, has said his client has denied any wrongdoing and “looks forward to being vindicated.”
Greenspan confirmed Tuesday that Galea has used HGH himself and prescribed it to non-athlete patients over the age of 40 to improve their quality of life, but said he has never given it to athletes.
The International Olympic Committee became concerned about Actovegin in 2000 after it appeared during that year’s Tour de France, said Dr. Gary Wadler, who leads the committee that determines the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned-substances list.
The drug was placed on the banned list, then removed a year later because more evidence was needed as to whether it was performance-enhancing or damaging to athletes’ health, he said.
“It would speed recovery. It would allow an athlete that was injured to return to competition,” said Stuart Phillips, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
“But I certainly wouldn’t consider it performance-enhancing.”
Associated Press Writer Devlin Barrett in Washington contributed.