Doctor involved in doping case charged in Canada

his Dec. 16, 1999, photo shows Dr. Anthony Galea treating a patient with shock wave therapy at the Institute of Sports Medicine in Toronto. The New York Times reported on its Web site Monday night, Dec. 14, 2009, that Galea was found with human growth hormone and Actovegin, a drug extracted from calf's blood, in his bag at the U.S.-Canada border in late September. He was arrested Oct. 15 in Toronto by Canadian police. Galea, who has treated golfer Tiger Woods, swimmer Dara Torres and NFL players, is suspected of providing athletes with performance-enhancing drugs, according to a newspaper report. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press/The Toronto Star, Rick Eglinton)

December 16, 2009 7:51:31 AM PST
A doctor who has treated many pro athletes has been charged by Canadian authorities with selling an unapproved drug known as Actovegin.

One of his clients is golfer Tiger Woods.

Dr. Anthony Galea, 51, was charged Wednesday with selling the drug, conspiracy to import an unapproved drug, conspiracy to export a drug and smuggling goods into Canada.

Galea was arrested Oct. 15 in Toronto. His lawyer denied any wrongdoing at a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday.

A person familiar with the investigation said it was carried out by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with help from the FBI. The person was not authorized to discuss the case and therefore spoke on condition of anonymity.

The FBI has opened an investigation based in part on medical records found on Galea's computer relating to several professional athletes, people briefed on the inquiry told the New York Times on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.

The anonymous sources did not disclose the names of the athletes, and Galea told the newspaper "it would be impossible" for investigators to have found material linking his athletes to performance-enhancing drugs.

The Times reported that Galea visited Woods' home in Florida at least four times in February and March to provide platelet-rich plasma therapy after his agents at International Management Group became concerned by the golfer's slow recovery from June 2008 knee surgery.

In an e-mail to the AP, agent Mark Steinberg said: "No one at IMG has ever met or recommended Dr. Galea, nor were we worried about the progress of Tiger's recovery, as the Times falsely reported. The treatment Tiger received is a widely accepted therapy and to suggest some connection with illegality is recklessly irresponsible."

In the therapy, the patient's blood is drawn and put through a centrifuge that separates out the platelets, which are then injected into the area of the injury. The platelets contain growth factors that can heal tissue, said Dr. Allan Mishra, an orthopedic surgeon at the Stanford University Medical Center and one of the leading researchers in the field.

Mishra said research is ongoing, but the therapy has proved successful at treating ailments such as tennis elbow. Starting Jan. 1, the World Anti-Doping Agency is banning the re-injection of platelets into muscles because that may aid in building muscles. But athletes can still inject them into joints and tendons to help recovery from injury if they follow procedures to declare the use to WADA.