A Canadian doctor who has treated golfer Tiger Woods, sprinter Donovan Bailey, swimmer Dara Torres and NFL players is suspected of providing athletes with performance-enhancing drugs, according to a newspaper report.
The New York Times reported on its website Monday night that a bag belonging to Dr. Anthony Galea was found with human growth hormone and Actovegin, a drug extracted from calf's blood, at the U.S.-Canada border in late September in a vehicle driven by Galea's assistant.
Galea was arrested Oct. 15 in Toronto by Canadian police. Using, selling or importing Actovegin is illegal in the United States.
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 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.
According to the newspaper, Galea has developed a blood-spinning technique — platelet-rich plasma therapy — to help speed post-surgery recovery.
Galea visited Woods's home in Florida at least four times in February and March, the newspaper reported, to provide that platelet therapy after his agents were concerned by his slow recovery from June 2008 knee surgery.
Asked about Woods's involvement with Galea, agent Mark Steinberg told the newspaper in an e-mail: "I would really ask that you guys don't write this? If Tiger is NOT implicated, and won't be, let's please give the kid a break."
Woods announced Friday he is taking an indefinite leave from golf to work on his marriage after allegations of infidelity surfaced in recent weeks.
A message was left by The Associated Press late Monday night seeking comment from Steinberg.
Torres told the newspaper Galea found a previously undiagnosed tear in her quad tendon.
"Excluding draining my knee, he has never treated me, but I did see his chiropractor who did soft-tissue work on my leg," she said in an email to the Times. "That was the extent of my visit with him."
Her agent, Evan Morgenstein, told the AP that Torres was not available for comment Monday night.
Brian H. Greenspan, Galea's criminal defence lawyer, said an investigation will vindicate his client.
"Dr. Galea was never engaged in any wrongdoing or any impropriety," Greenspan said. "Not only does he have a reputation that is impeccable, he is a person at the top of his profession."
Galea, who acknowledged he has used human growth hormone himself for 10 years, told the newspaper he never gave any athletes HGH, which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency but not tested for by the four major North American sports leagues. Galea also told the Times he has never combined HGH or Actovegin with his platelet treatments.
Actovegin is not banned by WADA.
"All these athletes come see me in Canada 'cause I fix them, and I think people just assume that I'm giving them stuff," he told the newspaper. "They don't have to come to me to get HGH and steroids. You can walk into your local gym in New York and get HGH."
Galea has served as the head physician for the Toronto Argonauts since 2004. He told the Times he has used Actovegin to treat players on the team, a fact Argos owner David Cynamon admitted to the newspaper he was unaware of.
Bailey told the Times that Galea treated him for an Achilles injury in 1999, but that he did not receive any injections from the doctor.
Galea is also being investigated by the RCMP for smuggling, advertising and selling unapproved drugs as well as criminal conspiracy, the Times reported.
The RCMP said Tuesday no charges have been filed yet against Galea. RCMP spokesman Sgt. Marc LaPorte said Galea was arrested after a search warrant was executed Oct. 15 on the Institute of Sports Medicine Health and Wellness Centre on Brown's Line near Toronto.
A court date is set for Friday in Toronto.