Canadian doctor Anthony Galea was charged Tuesday with illegally treating current and former NFL players with unapproved drugs including human growth hormone (HGH).
Three NFL players, two active and one retired, are cited in the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Buffalo. The affidavit includes testimony from a cooperating witness who was arrested entering the country from Canada and later told authorities about a future meeting with a professional athlete from the Washington area for a treatment session. Galea would go to U.S. cities to meet athletes in hotel rooms or their homes. Galea’s assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was stopped entering Buffalo with HGH and vials of “foreign homeopathic drugs.”
The affidavit identifies the players as Witness No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3.
Witness No. 1 is identified as a current NFL player and a patient of Galea. The player told investigators that Galea treated him weekly during the NFL season. He admitted receiving actovegin injections from Galea on numerous occasions, but denies knowingly receiving HGH. Actovegin is a derivative of calf’s blood and not approved for use in the U.S., but is not specifically prohibited by the NFL.
Witness No. 2 is identified as a retired NFL player whose playing career had ended before he became a patient of Galea. The former player, described as having played several years in the league and being “well above average size in height and weight” told investigators he asked Galea about HGH in connection with life issues. He said he received two “kits” of HGH at his home in late August 2009.
Witness No. 3 is identified as a current NFL player and a patient of Galea. He admits receiving numerous treatments from Galea, but denies that he knowingly received HGH.
Two NFL players, Tennessee Titans quarterback Chris Simms and wide receiver Javon Walker, who was released by the Oakland Raiders on March 8, have said they are patients of Galea.
“If they want to talk to me, feel free,” Simms told The Associated Press in Nashville on Tuesday. “Listen. I’m a big fan of Dr. Galea. I think he’s a great guy. He’s helped thousands of people out, not just athletes.”
Simms said he has not violated any league policies.
“I didn’t do anything,” he said. “If I’m on HGH, I’m getting ripped off because I don’t really look the way I should with my shirt off.”
In a Dec. 14 story in the New York Times, Walker describes Galea as “a person who just wants to help and heal.”
Criminal defense attorney Chris Leibig said the unnamed NFL players in the complaint potentially could face misdemeanor charges of knowingly taking or possessing an illegal substance without a prescription. But he said their cooperation as witnesses boded well for them.
“If someone cooperated with the government, that person can hope to receive more benefits, like not even being charged at all,” he said.
Leibig also said it was difficult to assess how much jail time Galea might be facing, given the variety of charges.
“If you’re found to be the leader of a conspiracy,” he said, “that can enhance (the penalty) even more.”
Galea’s attorneys didn’t respond to telephone calls seeking comment.
Further details from the federal criminal complaint released today by the U.S. Attorney’s Office :
Galea was arrested in September 2009 on his way to meet with a player in Washington who was receiving treatments in the “home city in which he played.”
The player was receiving a “medical procedure” from Galea and was later interviewed by federal agents.
The player told authorities he never knowingly received HGH. He got IV drips, injections to his knees, and B-12 shots to his arm.
This player paid for the treatments and the travel expenses of both Galea and an assistant.
The player reserved two Washington-area hotel rooms for the Sept. 2009 treatments, but those treatments were not delivered because the doctor was arrested.
At the time of the arrest, among the supplies the assistant carried for these treatments was “nutropin” — a kind of HGH — and Actovegin, an unapproved drug in the U.S. that anti-doping people look at skeptically.
The player did receive vitamin drip and HGH treatment from Galea on Aug. 12 in Washington.
The player was treated “on a weekly basis during the season” between Oct. 2007-09. If the player was injured, the visits sometimes occured more often. It wasn’t clear whether these earlier visits took place in Washington and whether he was injured prior to the September 2009 appointment in Washington.
There are over 50 invoices from the player to Galea.
A second athlete — called Athlete T in the criminal complaint and not necessarily a football player — was visited by Galea on Sept. 3, 2009 and received an Actovegin and vitamin drip treatment.