Print and Go Back ESPN.com: ESPN [Print without images]

Monday, June 21, 2010
Documents seized indicate football link

By Mike Fish
ESPN.com

While executing a search warrant at the Toronto office of Dr. Anthony Galea last October, Canadian authorities carted off a significant amount of homeopathic medicines, almost 800 ampoules of substances with Russian labels and a small amount of human growth hormone, as well as evidence offering yet another connection to his treatment of elite athletes, specifically pro football players.

According to court documents ESPN obtained Monday, the lengthy list of items authorities seized includes an "NFL file folder," "Professional Players Journal" and "daytimer with football dates." Records indicate they also seized a "CFL [Canadian Football League] folder" from the office of Galea, former team physician to the Toronto Argonauts.

NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said Monday: "This is an ongoing federal investigation and we will cooperate fully, but we defer any comment at this time to the federal authorities."

The seven-page document filed with the Canadian court after the execution of the October search warrant does not identify any patients by name. The Washington Post reported last month that Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss was supplied HGH by Galea, and that he is among the unidentified players listed in federal documents. First-year Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, however, has said he expects the league to clear Moss "when people find out all the facts."

Moss was allegedly just one of the pro athletes Galea paid a house call on as he crisscrossed the country last summer injecting them with human growth hormone, which is banned by the NFL and most sports organizations, and other healing substances. Federal authorities have indicated it is unlikely that any of athletes who were treated by Galea will face charges.

Galea, a go-to doctor for injured athletes, emerged as the key figure in a U.S.-Canadian smuggling investigation last September after his executive assistant was flagged at the Buffalo border crossing with a bagful of medical supplies, including growth hormone. In May, the doctor was named in a federal criminal complaint with smuggling, conspiracy to lie to federal officials, unlawful distribution of HGH, introducing the unapproved drug Actovegin into interstate commerce and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

During the raid of Galea's office, authorities seized 42 patient medical files, the doctor's bank account statements, a file containing checks written to Galea, and computer hard drives, a recorder and other record-keeping devices. The bevy of seized substances ranges from the dietary supplement Xentropin, which promises HGH-like results, to a single ampoule of HGH and the anti-inflammatory drug Torado, to Mildronate, a heart medicine that's billed as capable of helping healthy people deal with physical and mental stress overload.

"I would imagine you could find that in any doctor's office," Mark Mahoney, Galea's Buffalo, N.Y.-based attorney, said of the items seized.

Mahoney also suggests that the government has failed to draw a distinction between Galea's use of homeopathic medicines and traditional drugs, although one of the substances he's alleged to use -- Actovegin, which is extracted from calf's blood -- is illegal in the United States and not approved for use in Canada. And growth hormone is permitted for only very limited uses by U.S. law.

"The government never seems to want to address the fact that Galea cured people with homeopathic medications," Mahoney told ESPN. "He is not using every pharmaceutical opiate and side-effect kind of drugs ... The government loves to let people think we're talking about performance enhancements when they know exactly it has nothing to do with performance enhancement."

The Toronto-based attorney for Galea, Brian Greenspan, didn't oppose the request from ESPN counsel to obtain a copy of the search warrant return. Greenspan said he signed off after recognizing that there were no patient confidentiality issues at stake, and also feeling confident the release of the documents wouldn't negatively impact his client.

"It is nothing," Greenspan told ESPN. "It is a standard return. It is an inventory of what was seized. The content of what was seized, the documents or items, there is nothing that speaks to anything or anyone inappropriate."

Greenspan said he doesn't believe the focus of the Canadian investigation centers on Galea's involvement with prominent amateur and professional athletes, although he says the same can't be true of the U.S. investigation across the border in Buffalo.

"The American prosecution seems to be focused on that exclusively," Greenspan said of the sports ties. "Dr. Galea is one of most active, successful sports physicians in this country ... He happens to have a large clientele of amateur and professional athletes."

Galea is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S., yet he has gained a reputation in recent years for having treated well-known athletes including the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Tiger Woods, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran.

According to documents previously obtained by ESPN, Mary Anne Catalano, the former executive assistant to Galea, told U.S. and Canadian authorities of 23 athletes that she said Galea treated in the U.S. between last July 22 and when she was stopped at the border Sept. 14. Catalano said she frequently accompanied Galea and met with athletes in "hotel rooms and their homes" to provide various medical treatments.

Galea is alleged to have treated athletes in eight major U.S. cities last summer, led by 11 athletes in Cleveland. Catalano told authorities that he also treated three athletes in New York during that time, as well as two each in Boston, Tampa, Fla., and Washington. He also visited athlete patients in Orlando, San Diego and San Francisco.

Catalano, a Canadian citizen, told authorities she witnessed Galea injecting a cocktail mixture containing Nutropin [growth hormone] into the injured knees of "at least seven athletes" while in the U.S. She described the cocktail as also containing Traumeel, vitamin B-12, Lymphomyosot and Procaine.

Based on documents from the case, it appears information provided by Catalano gave authorities a road map of what to look for when they showed up at Galea's office in Toronto. She told them that Galea kept separate files on his professional-athlete patients, and in some instances billed them under a separate company called Galea Investments Inc. She also identified where in the Toronto office he stored HGH, which requires refrigeration.

Catalano, who has been cooperating with the government, was initially charged with smuggling goods into the U.S. and later released on $10,000 bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled Thursday, though it's likely to be put off again.

Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.