Anthony Galea, the controversial Canadian doctor who lists Tiger Woods among his patients, zigzagged across the United States last summer meeting professional athletes to inject them with human growth hormone and other drugs, according to allegations contained in court documents.
In hotel rooms and athletes' homes, the Toronto physician treated 23 injured athletes with medicinal cocktails and their own centrifuged blood over a three-month period beginning last July, according to a search warrant application filed by Canadian investigators and released by the court to TSN. None of the athletes were named.
The allegations against Dr. Galea came on the same day that U.S. authorities charged the doctor after a separate eight-month investigation that has forced stars ranging from Alex Rodriguez to Mr. Woods to explain their relationship with the 51-year-old father of seven.
In a federal criminal complaint filed in Buffalo, Dr. Galea was charged Tuesday with smuggling, unlawful distribution of human growth hormone, lying to federal officials and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Four unnamed National Football League players were listed among his patients in court documents. The criminal complaint describes interviews with three football players, including one who was retired when he began to be treated by Dr. Galea. One of the current players said he received treatments of Actovegin from Dr. Galea, but said he did not knowingly receive human growth hormone, which is banned by the NFL.
The other active player also acknowledged being treated by Dr. Galea in the U.S., but said he did not receive HGH. However, the retired player said that in August, 2009, Dr. Galea's assistant delivered two "kits" of HGH, priced at $1,200 each, to his home in the U.S.
Dr. Galea has acknowledged that he personally uses human growth hormone and has prescribed it to some patients, but he has denied providing any performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes. The allegations against him have not been proven in court. His lawyer, Mark J. Mahoney, said investigators have been using the media to release information about the case in order to "make athletes sweat."
"It's always a difficult thing when we have government sources not only leaking information, but in this case leaking a lot of false information," he said in Buffalo. "I think the purpose of that was to try to squeeze some of these professional athletes to make them think that this was a case about performance-enhancement drugs - which it isn't."
Dr. Galea first became the prime target of authorities in September, when his assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was stopped at the U.S.-Canada border with human growth hormone, prompting investigations in both countries.
Ms. Catalano has become a key source for U.S. and Canadian investigators, saying that she frequently accompanied her former boss to meet athletes in hotel rooms and their homes for various medical procedures.
In documents filed with an Ontario court, she listed eight U.S. destinations including New York, Boston, Tampa and Washington. Dr. Galea's busiest stop appeared to be Cleveland, where he allegedly treated 11 athletes. Ms. Catalano told investigators that athletes paid for the treatments as well as all travel expenses for the doctor and his assistant.
She also told authorities she witnessed Dr. Galea inject a cocktail mixture containing Nutropin (growth hormone) into the injured knee "of at least seven athletes" while in the U.S. The substance is banned by major professional sports leagues.
Her lawyer, Calvin Barry, says he expects his client's legal problems to be "resolved" before the end of the month. She faces criminal charges stemming from her Sept. 14 arrest at the Buffalo border.
He added she will likely be a witness in the court case against her former boss. "She's been co-operative since the get-go," he said.
The NFL released a statement saying the league has a "strong interest" in learning which players are implicated in the charges against Dr. Galea: "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."
Within the insular world of high-performance sports, Dr. Galea has gained a reputation as a high priest of alternative healing. His skills, supporters say, are rooted in his willingness to look beyond Western medicine to speed them back to competition.
And he practises what he prescribes: For 10 years, Dr. Galea says he has injected himself and non-athlete patients with human growth hormone, which he and a small number of physicians believe is an anti-aging treatment. He says the injections help him keep up with his second wife, a former tennis player who is 28 years old and the mother of three of his seven children.
Raised by devout Roman Catholic parents and a graduate of a Toronto Catholic high school, Dr. Galea had what he calls a "spiritual awakening" during a 2001 visit to Jerusalem, and now describes himself as a devout Zionist and biblical scholar. Every three months he flies to Israel, where he is revered in medical circles for donating his time and raising funds to help rehabilitate injured soldiers.
Now, Dr. Galea is in legal trouble on multiple fronts. Along with the new U.S. charges, he faces four criminal charges in Canada stemming from a raid on his clinic in a west Toronto neighbourhood, including selling an unapproved drug, smuggling goods into Canada and conspiracy to export drugs.
He is not authorized to practise medicine in the United States.
While Dr. Galea has acknowledged that he personally uses human growth hormone and has prescribed it to some patients, he has denied providing any performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
With a report from The New York Times
Follow us on Twitter: