Board calls doctor a 'serious threat'

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A doctor at the center of a steroid investigation involving Carolina Panthers players was suspended by the state medical board, which called the practitioner a "serious threat" to public health.

The South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners said Dr. James Shortt prescribed the steroid testosterone to four unidentified male patients "in doses and frequencies that were extremely unlikely to have been prescribed with any legitimate medical justification."

An accompanying document from a state Labor Licensing Department investigator said the dosage and refill levels for the testosterone "provide a strong indication" that they were used for medically unnecessary purposes such as increasing muscle mass.

A medical board spokesman declined to say whether any of the four males cited in the suspension order were Panthers players. CBS News reported last month that three Panthers players filled prescriptions from Shortt for banned steroids less than two weeks before the team played in the 2004 Super Bowl.

Shortt denied any wrongdoing.

"I'm annoyed," he told The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer for Friday editions. He has not decided whether to contest the suspension, his lawyer Ward Bradley said.

"We are certainly going to do whatever we can do," Bradley said. "He wants to practice medicine and make people feel better."

The order, announced Thursday after a secret vote a day earlier, also cited the 2004 deaths of two patients whose families have filed malpractice lawsuits.

Katherine Bibeau, who had multiple sclerosis, died three days after receiving intravenous hydrogen peroxide. Michael Bate, who suffered from prostate cancer, also received the peroxide injections and was allegedly told by Shortt how to get and take an illegal cancer drug.

Bate's doctor determined his cause of death was cancer. But Richland County coroner Gary Watts ruled Bibeau's death a homicide; no charges have been filed.

"There is no doubt in my mind Katherine Bibeau died as a result of something Dr. Shortt did," Watts said Friday.

The board will continue its investigation and decide whether to revoke Shortt's license permanently, medical board spokesman Jim
Knight said.

Shortt, a traditionally trained M.D. who turned to alternative medicine, has been under investigation for nearly a year by state and federal authorities probing illegal steroid prescriptions.