Sports Doc Charged with Giving Performance-Enhancing Drugs

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Toronto—The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced on Wednesday that a renowned sports doctor has been charged with selling a potentially performance-enhancing drug.

Anthony Michael Galea, 51, has treated a number of Olympic athletes and professional baseball, hockey, football and golf players, including Tiger Woods. Galea was charged with selling an unapproved drug; conspiracy to import the drug; conspiracy to export; and smuggling goods into Canada.

The drug is question is Actovegin, which is derived from calf’s liver blood and which has been studied since the 1970s. Most recently, it has undergone a governmental clinical trial as a possible medication to treat nerve damage in diabetics. Among its other uses are the treatment of peripheral artery disease and strokes.

When given to otherwise healthy athletes, Actovegin has demonstrated an ability to exert insulin-like activity, including glucose oxidation and the transport of glucose throughout the body. The benefit of supplying more oxygen to working muscles is apparent for athletes.

Galea’s assistant was taken into custody last September after being detained at the United States border with an uspecified quantity of Actovegin. Galea had allegedly been planning to treat patients outside of Canada with the drug, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement. In October, officials searched Galea’s medical facilities, the Institute of Sports Medicine Health and Wellness Center, and seized unapproved drugs which were believed to be Actovegin.

Galea treated celebrity golfer Tiger Woods in 2008, while Woods was recuperating from knee surgery. Despite speculation on the part of the media that Woods had received a performance-enhancing substance from Galea, the doctor denies those charges, as does Woods’s agent.

“The treatment Tiger received is a widely accepted therapy and to suggest some connection with illegality is recklessly irresponsible,” said Mark Steinberg, the agent who represents Woods.

Brian H. Greenspan, the attorney for Galea, has further denied that his client has supplied any athletes, including famous ones, with any kind of performance-enhancing drug, including Actovegin and human growth hormone. He said that Galea will prove his innocence on all charges. Galea is slated to appear at Old City Hall Court in Toronto on Friday morning.

 

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