The Canadian doctor who treated Tiger Woods’s injured left knee was charged with unlawful distribution of drugs, including human growth hormone (HGH), to NFL players. U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced the charges on Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Buffalo charging Dr. Anthony Galea, 50, of Toronto, 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.
The crux of the complaint involves Galea’s treatment of three NFL players who are not identified. One of the NFL players allegedly received injections of Actovegin from Galea. Actovegin, which is calf’s blood extract used in the treatment of circulatory disorders, is not banned by the NFL, but its use is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Another NFL player allegedly had two kits of HGH delivered to his home at Galea’s direction. The third player is alleged to have been treated by Galea numerous times in the United States.
Galea’s billings to these three athletes totaled approximately $200,000, the complaint said.
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. According to a witness cooperating with prosecutors, Galea is not a licensed doctor in the United States and he understood that treating patients inside the United States was unlawful. The witness accompanied Galea to the Untied States numerous times to treat athletes, according to the complaint.
“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 identify the cooperating witness as Galea’s former assistant Mary Ann Catalano. According to ESPN, Catalano identified 23 athletes during interviews with U.S. and Canadian authorities whom she said Galea treated in the United States.
At the Masters in April, Woods said that federal investigators had contacted his agent, Mark Steinberg, about the Galea probe, but had not asked to interview him. 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.
In a recent interview with The Golf Channel, Woods’s ex-coach Hank Haney said he witnessed Galea treating Woods’s knee and said that the procedure was legitimate.
“I was there and watched the whole procedure,” Haney said. “There was never anything that went into Tiger Woods’s body that didn’t come out of his body. They take blood out, they spin it, they inject the plasma back in. I totally believe that Tiger Woods has never taken any performance-enhancing drugs.”