The attorney for Canadian sports physician Dr. Anthony Galea is encouraged by the recent string of denials from top professional athletes -- including Tiger Woods on Monday -- that his client incorporated human growth hormone as part of their treatment in healing from injuries.
The latest denial came from Woods during a much-anticipated news conference Monday at Augusta National. Woods described Galea as treating his injured knee and Achilles tendon with a legal procedure called platelet-rich plasma therapy or "blood spinning," a process in which a small sum of blood is drawn, spun in a centrifuge and then re-injected in an effort to hasten the healing.
"He never gave me HGH or any PEDs [performance-enhancing drugs]," Woods said. "I have never taken any of those. I have never taken any illegal drug, ever, for that matter."
Last month, New York Mets teammates Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran were interviewed by federal agents, telling investigators they did not receive HGH from Galea. New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez also denied receiving HGH from the Toronto doctor during an interview with Major League Baseball investigators last week.
Those words played particularly well with Brian Greenspan, a prominent Toronto defense attorney representing Galea.
"Hopefully if they keep interviewing people they will find that there is nothing there," Greenspan said Tuesday. "One would hope that if the people they are interviewing are being straight forward and candid with the investigators, they're finding that [Galea] is a highly regarded physician who is at the cutting edge of a lot of very, very important therapies. And that he is written about it, lectured about it, is transparent about it. And that he is held in enormously high regard by everyone important in the profession."
Galea, 51, faces four charges in Canada related to the importation and sale of the unapproved drug known as Actovegin, and is at the center of a federal drug investigation in Buffalo after his former assistant was stopped late September attempting to bring HGH across the border. Mary Anne Catalano told U.S. authorities that Galea asked her to carry the drugs, including HGH, because he had been previously "flagged" at the U.S.-Canadian border.
Galea has treated a lengthy list of top professional and international athletes, and authorities are probing whether he provided them with illegal or banned drugs.
"Hopefully the American authorities will realize that the substances that were found in his bag that his assistant was bringing over, anything related to HGH, was always what he said it was," Greenspan said. "And that was he is a very, very public promoter of the use of [growth hormone] in men over 40. Not athletes, not performance enhancement, but a proponent of HGH for people like himself who are in their 50s. And if you take a look at Tony he certainly doesn't look it.
"I'm in my 60s. Everybody jokes about fact that by the time this case is over I'm going to look 40 again. But he is a poster child for HGH in terms of its capacity. He has written about that. There is no secret to it ... And he thinks it is also an absurd concept to associate HGH with performance enhancement. And he has spoken about that."
Greenspan said the discovery process is ongoing in the Canadian case, suggesting it could be 18 months before there is a resolution. As for the direction of the case being investigated by the FBI, he said "In America, I have no sense of it."
Catalano, the doctor's former assistant, is charged with smuggling goods into the U.S. and remains free on $10,000 bond. Several appearances to consider dismissing charges against her have been postponed, with the next scheduled June 11 in Buffalo.
Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.