The New York Times published a story on the FBI investigation of Dr. Anthony Galea, a sports medicine specialist, who has treated loads of professional athletes, some with pioneering but possibly illegal procedures.
Dr. Galea was arrested on October 15th in Toronto by the Canadian police after they found human growth hormone and Actovegin in his medical bag as he was crossing the US-Canadian border. He is also suspected for providing his patients with performance-enhancing drugs.
Times scribes Don Van Natta Jr., Michael S. Schmidt and Ian Austen report that Dr. Galea has developed a reputation for helping elite athletes accelerate their recovery post-surgery or avoiding surgery altogether by using a blood-spinning technology. And, of course, which world class athlete’s name is mentioned in the lede? Tiger Woods. Obviously.
Dr. Galea admitted to prescribing HGH to some patients in his general practice, but denied providing the substance to professional athletes. He said Tiger’s management company, IMG, recommended Tiger to him, when they were concerned about the sluggish pace of his recovery after undergoing major knee surgery in June 2008. So, earlier this year in February and March, Dr. Galea traveled to Tiger’s home in Orlando four times a month to administer platelet therapy.
What really caught me off-guard was the peculiar email response from agent Mark Steinberg to the reporters: “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.”
The kid? Huh? And pleading with them not to write the story? Really? Yes, it’s been a stressful couple of weeks (to say the least), but probably not something he should have written in an email, knowing it would be published.
Now, there’s no evidence linking Tiger to the illegal drugs that Dr. Galea is being investigated for (ones that also fall under the PGA Tour’s banned substances list). But it does raise questions and people are already starting to dig. After the bizarre succession of shocking revelations surrounding Tiger’s personal life in the past few weeks, ones that have already sullied his image, he could be pummeled with more damaging accusations. And if anything is uncovered connecting Tiger to PED use, the dismay and consequences resulting from such an expose could be much, much worse than his (allegedly) serial philandering.
Let’s hope there’s nothing more to this other than guilt by association.
[Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images]