Sports

Toronto MD faces charges in doping probe

Prominent Toronto sports physican Dr. Anthony Galea faces charges related to doping probes conducted by the FBI and RCMP.

A Canadian sports medicine doctor will soon be slapped with criminal charges related to performance-enhancing drugs after investigations by the FBI and RCMP, says his lawyer.

Dr. Anthony Galea is a prominent Toronto-based doctor who has treated some of the most elite athletes in North America — including superstar golfer Tiger Woods, whose marriage has imploded publicly over an admission of infidelity. He has also treated sprinter Donovan Bailey and figure skater Patrick Chan.

The charges stem from a raid on the doctor's clinic outside Toronto a month after the discovery of the Human Growth Hormone contained in a medical bag found in a car driven over the U.S.-Canadian border in September by Galea's assistant.

Galea's lawyer says authorities seized only a "small amount" of HGH, a performance-enhancing drug, and that it was for Galea's own personal use.

Galea takes the drug because he believes it is a therapeutic treatment for "non-competing individuals" over 40, lawyer Brian Greenspan told a packed news conference in Toronto.

While he has prescribed HGH to some patients, Galea has never given it to a professional athlete, Greenspan said.

"His primary practice, particularly when it comes to athletes is in addressing their injuries," Greenspan said. "He's not engaged or involved in performance enhancement."

'We know there will be charges'

Greenspan says Galea will be charged with conspiracy under the Criminal Code, and face a charge each under the Food and Drug Act and Customs Act. He said he wouldn't learn until a court date on Friday the specifics of what his client is accused of doing.

"We know there will be charges," said Greenspan, adding that he learned that when he was arrested and released after the Oct. 15 search of his clinic.

It's not illegal in Canada to prescribe HGH.

Greenspan confirmed that Galea had treated Tiger Woods but insisted that the golfer, who is in seclusion after a series of women emerged with claims they had engaged in extra-marital affairs with him, is not the story in this case.

"If you're here to ask about Tiger Woods, that's not really the story today," he told a packed news conference attended by several U.S. media outlets, including ABC's Good Morning America.

"Tiger Woods happened to be a patient … he assisted in his rehabilitation program after his surgery and apparently was very successful in getting Woods to return to golf earlier than anticipated."

Woods is denying through his agents at the International Management Group that he was referred to Galea for treatment after concern about Woods' recovery from knee surgery in 2008.

In an email sent to the Associated Press on Tuesday, agent Mark Steinberg said, "No one at IMG has ever met or recommended Dr. Galea, nor were we worried about Tiger's recovery."

'He is a distinguished doctor'

Greenspan lauded Galea's reputation and said the doctor looks forward to being vindicated.

"He is considered by most people to be one of the most pre-eminent specialists in his field," Greenspan said.  "He is a distinguished doctor.

"Throughout the world, people look to him as a pioneer in the area of sports medicine and he has numerous admirers."

Galea "looks forward for this chapter to be over" said the well-known Canadian defence lawyer.

The RCMP's investigation was launched after an assistant of Galea's was stopped at the U.S.-Canadian border. 

The car the assistant was in was often used to drive Galea and happened to contain some of his belongings when it was stopped. A computer hard-drive and a machine used as a medical device were seized, Greenspan said.

The assistant now faces charges in the U.S.

Galea himself faces no charges in the U.S. at this point.

After the border incident, the RCMP conducted a search of the Institute of Sports Medicine and Wellness near Toronto on Oct. 15. 

Media reports say the FBI is also investigating allegations another drug, Actovegin — which is illegal in the U.S. but not in Canada — was found in Galea's medical bag at the New York border crossing.

Galea will not appear in court on Friday, but is expected to be represented by Greenspan.

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