Tuesday, October 21, 2003
State police may open investigation
TACOMA, Wash. -- A University of Washington team doctor says
he warned athletic department officials twice that another
physician now suspended from practicing medicine was
over-prescribing narcotics to softball players and failing to keep
their medical records.
Still, he says, the university continued to use Dr. William
Scheyer as a softball team physician and consultant for two years.
Dr. John O'Kane told The News Tribune he contacted athletic
department officials as early as 2001 and met with two assistant
attorneys general a year later about Scheyer's questionable medical
In a separate development, Washington State Patrol investigators
planned to meet with the U.S. Attorney's Office to determine
whether to proceed with a criminal investigation of Scheyer, State
Patrol spokeswoman Nelsa Brodie told The Olympian newspaper.
"They hope to know in a day or two," Brodie said Monday.
UW athletic director Barbara Hedges did not cut ties with
Scheyer until this past August when the state Health Department was
investigating allegations of improper prescriptions.
The state suspended Scheyer's license last Thursday. The state
Medical Quality Assurance Commission accused the Kirkland doctor of
writing prescriptions for more than 5,000 doses of narcotics,
anabolic steroids, sedatives and tranquilizers in the names of a UW
athletic trainer, a UW softball player and a national USA Softball
Scheyer has not been accused of any criminal activity. He has
denied giving medicine to patients without first examining them.
Jim Muldoon, Pacific 10 Conference assistant commissioner, told
The Olympian this week the Pac-10 will wait for the UW to complete
its internal investigation before deciding how to proceed. The
NCAA's Kay Hawes said the NCAA doesn't confirm or deny
The Associated Press was unable to reach Scheyer for comment
Tuesday. A call to his Kirkland office was routed to an answering
service that would not take a message.
State investigators believe the drugs were intended for the UW
and national softball teams, according to investigative reports.
"In retrospect, it turned out that it really was a problem to
have Bill working with the softball team. I don't know why he was
retained," O'Kane told the Tacoma newspaper.
After initial news reports on the investigation last week, UW
officials called a news conference during which Hedges defended her
program and said there was no evidence of prescription drug abuse
or steroid use by student athletes.
Hedges also said she never heard concerns about Scheyer until
state investigators contacted her this summer.
"The university will conduct an independent investigation
regarding the Department of Health's Medical Quality Assurance
Commission's report," athletic department spokesman Jim Daves told
AP on Tuesday. "At the conclusion of the
investigation, the athletic department will respond to questions
regarding this matter."
Norm Arkans, special assistant to the UW president, said no
timeline had been set for completing the investigation.
"We'd like to do it expeditiously," he said. "It's not going
to take three days. I hope it doesn't take three weeks."
"We want to look at what was going on with Dr. Scheyer,"
Arkans said. "We want to look at dispensing drugs to student
athletes and if there were indications that there were problems
with Dr. Scheyer before the board's investigation, what were they
and what could we have done about it."
"Right now, we've got a lot more questions than answers," he said.
Softball coach Teresa Wilson has said she knew nothing about
Scheyer's alleged prescription irregularities, or that he had
written 126 prescriptions in the name of one of her players. The
student, whose identity was not released by state investigators or
the UW, has said she did not receive most of the medication
prescribed under her name.
But O'Kane, who has worked at the UW since 1994, said he heard
from trainers that students were receiving "tons" of medications
from Scheyer without proper examinations and that Scheyer was known
to have walked the aisle of an airplane after a football game
handing out medicine to the players from his pockets.
O'Kane, the softball team's physician for the past year, relayed
the stories to investigators with the Medical Quality Assurance
Commission and state Pharmacy Board in May.
O'Kane said when he first suspected problems with Scheyer three
years ago, he asked the campus pharmacy where athletes fill their
prescriptions to audit the medications Scheyer had prescribed.
The investigation revealed nothing, O'Kane said, because Scheyer
was filling most of his prescriptions at Swedish Medical Center in
Seattle through pharmacist Edward Matsuwaka.
The state Pharmacy Board last week accused Matsuwaka, who also was involved with the
UW athletic program as the softball team's volunteer game
photographer, of improper conduct. He has not been accused of any
In Fall 2001, O'Kane said he shared his concerns with associate
athletic director Dave Burton, who took the matter to his
administrative superiors, the News Tribune reported.
O'Kane said he brought up more concerns to athletic department
managers in Fall 2002. He said he also spoke with Karin Nyrop and
Nancy Hovis, two state assistant attorneys general assigned to the
But nothing happened until this past August, when Hedges ousted
Scheyer as a volunteer consulting physician to the softball team.