Friday, July 1, 2011
Sources: Anthony Galea to plead guilty
By Mike Fish
Anthony Galea, a Toronto-based doctor accused of injecting United States professional athletes with human growth hormone and other substances, is expected to enter a guilty plea at a hearing Wednesday in federal district court in Buffalo, ESPN.com has learned.
Galea, a go-to doctor for injured elite athletes, emerged as the key figure in a U.S.-Canadian smuggling investigation after his executive assistant was flagged at the Buffalo border crossing in September 2009 with a bagful of medical supplies, including HGH.
According to documents obtained at the time by ESPN, Mary Anne Catalano, the former executive assistant, identified 23 athletes during interviews with U.S. and Canadian authorities whom she said Galea treated in the United States during a two-month period in summer 2009.
U.S. authorities subsequently charged Galea with five felonies, including smuggling performance-enhancing drugs across the border, conspiring to lie to federal officials, unlawful distribution of HGH, introducing the unapproved drug Actovegin into interstate commerce, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Galea also faces related charges in Canada.
Earlier Friday, his plea agreement hearing was scheduled for Wednesday before Judge Richard Arcara.
Catalano pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to agents when she was stopped at the border crossing, initially telling authorities the drugs and medical supplies were intended for a medical conference Galea was to attend in Washington, D.C.
The Canadian citizen has cooperated with authorities, including making an appearance before a federal grand jury, and that's expected to impact her sentencing, which is scheduled for July 25.
Galea has gained notoriety in recent years for having treated well-known athletes such as Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, and Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes of the New York Mets -- none of whom have been tied to performance-enhancing drugs in court documents.
In documents obtained by ESPN, Catalano told authorities that while traveling with him in the United States, she witnessed Galea inject a cocktail mixture containing Nutropin (growth hormone) into the injured knee of "at least seven athletes."
Galea is not licensed to practice medicine in the United States, but Catalano told authorities she accompanied the doctor while he treated athletes in eight major U.S. cities in summer 2009. She described Galea as having met athletes in "hotel rooms and their homes" to provide various medical treatments.
The pro athletes, some of whom had multiple treatments from Galea, were not identified in court documents, though it is presumed the majority are football and baseball players. Court filings listed at least three unidentified NFL players.
Catalano advised authorities that in his trips to the United States, Galea typically performed two procedures on the athletes, both attempts to quicken healing. The first featured a cocktail mixture containing numerous medicines including HGH, which would be injected into an athlete's injured knee. She described the cocktail as also containing Traumeel, vitamin B-12, Lymphomyosot and Procaine.
The other procedure, which Woods had after surgery on his left knee, was platelet-rich plasma therapy, whereby Galea would take blood from the athlete and separate the platelets from the red blood cells after putting it in a centrifuge. The platelets then would be injected into the injured area of the athlete. The experimental procedure has become increasingly popular with athletes who are recovering from injury.
Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com.