Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Shanahan letting due process play out
ESPN.com news services
Washington coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday that the team has not been contacted about a federal investigation into the activities of a Canadian doctor who was charged with supplying illegal drugs to NFL players and reportedly was en route to treat a Redskins player when he was arrested last September.
"We'll let the due process take care of itself," Shanahan said, according to The Washington Post. "But I'm not going to answer to every type of question that comes -- some doctor comes to town and supposedly is seeing a player. The NFL is on top of all those things. If there's any validity to it, they will contact me and contact our organization, which they have not done."
Dr. Anthony Galea of Toronto was named in a federal criminal complaint following an eight-month investigation by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Food and Drug Administration.
Galea became the focus of authorities' attention last September when his assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was stopped at the border in Buffalo with a small quantity of human growth hormone and vials of "foreign homeopathic drugs." Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents found 20 vials and 76 ampoules of unknown misbranded drugs -- including Actovegin, growth hormone and foreign-labeled homeopathic drugs -- 111 syringes, a diagnostic ultrasound computer and medical centrifuge.
Initially, Catalano told investigators the medical supplies were being brought into the U.S. for use by Galea at a conference he was attending in Washington. She soon recanted her statement, according to the documents obtained by ESPN, telling investigators the drugs were instead to be used by Galea during a scheduled appointment with an athlete in Washington later that day. Two people privy to the investigation identified the player as a member of the Redskins, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
A former doctor for the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, Galea is known for using a blood-spinning technique -- called platelet-rich plasma therapy -- designed to speed recovery from injuries.
But he is not authorized to work in the United States, U.S. Attorney William Hochul said, and is accused of repeatedly entering the country between 2007 and 2009 to treat professional athletes from Major League Baseball, the NFL and the PGA Tour.
During that time, Galea billed three football players about $200,000, Hochul said.
The affidavit refers to three unidentified NFL players as witnesses, including one who allegedly received HGH from Galea after his playing days were over. The two other players said that while they were treated by the doctor, they carefully avoided receiving HGH or other performance-enhancing substances banned by the league.
Illegal drugs and the possibility of a bad apple on the roster were prime topics as the Redskins gathered Wednesday for an offseason practice. Not everybody knew the details about the charges levied Tuesday against Galea of Toronto, but most were aware of one key fact: According to an affidavit, Galea's assistant said a professional football player from Washington called to request a session with Galea at a Washington-area hotel last September.
Redskins veteran Phillip Daniels tried to break the tension with a bit of humor on Wednesday.
"I've been telling everybody it's me," the defensive end said. "Just joking around. But guys talk about it in the locker room, and they wonder who it is."
"It's just very unfortunate," defensive end Andre Carter said. "The NFL in general, they're trying to crack down on illegal substances. If there was a trace here, it might be a small distraction. As a team, we'd talk about it and discuss things. We've just got to move on. But we just hope everybody's smart about what they're taking."
While no one dared speculate publicly on who the player might be -- given all the roster changes since September, it could be someone no longer with the team -- the case did give players a chance to revisit the ongoing problem of banned substances in the NFL.
Asked about an estimate that perhaps 20 percent of players are taking some sort of banned substance, Daniels said: "It's probably more than that, really."
"I'm pretty sure the temptation is there for all these guys to try something to get back faster and do the things they need to do," Daniels said. "Your job's on the line, but guys just got to be smart. When I was in high school, I did a report on steroids and I know what they can do to your body. ... I remember going to one of the gyms in my hometown when a guy first approached me talking about steroids. I said, 'Dude, naw, I don't want to do that because I know the history of it. I know what it does to the body.'
"I know guys right now with hip problems because they used that stuff. I know a lot of guys my hometown, their bodies are just breaking down, don't even look the same no more."
Cornerback Carlos Rogers said he wasn't surprised by the news. Neither was Carter.
"Name a year where there hasn't been a guy who's been caught using steroids," Carter said. "There's always going to be somebody."
Daniels said he hopes he doesn't find out who the culprit is.
"I hope the details don't come out," Daniels said. "I don't want to know. I don't want to have to look at my partner and say 'You were doing that illegally all this time?' I hope they just tear the papers up and just go to him privately and do it that way."
In a statement released Tuesday, the NFL said it didn't know the identity of the players.
"This is an ongoing federal investigation and we have not been informed of the identity of these players," the league said.
"We obviously have a very strong interest in learning who these players are and about their involvement with any prohibited substances so that we can enforce our policies. 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. We have been in touch with law enforcement and will continue to cooperate with the federal authorities as the case moves forward.
"This case highlights the need for enhanced testing and in our discussions about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL Players Association, we have proposed expanding our current testing program to include growth hormone."
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN investigative reporter Mike Fish was used in this report.