Candian Doctor Anthony Galea plead guilty in a Federal Court this week to charges that he smuggled medication into the United States, including several doses of Human Growth Hormone.
Galea is well known in sports circles for his ties to treating athletes with performance enhancing drugs, and his client list includes superstar athletes in the NFL and Major League Baseball, as well as US track and Field stars and even Tiger Woods.
As part of his plea bargain to officials in the Buffalo Courthouse, the embattled doctor has agreed to give investigators a list of his clients and the treatments he gave to the individuals under his care. For now it seems that he will be cooperative, and fans and the media alike will get an inside view of just how prevalent steroid use is in professional sports. For now, however, we can only speculate. It seems that with every bit of trouble Dr. Galea gets into, we come out with more and more questions about those on his client list.
Anthony Galea has long been treating athletes with controversial procedures, and has come up in discussions surrounding steroids and anti-doping measures ever since the drugs landed under the microscope in the sports world.
Along with the smuggling charges brought against Galea in October of last year, the doctor is also charged with treating 20 different professional athletes – including Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees – without an American Medical License. Many of those under his care have been treated with Platelet-Rich Plasma procedures, which involves injecting an afflicted area with the patient’s own plasma in hopes of speeding up repair and recovery processes. Though the process itself is not banned by any Anti-Doping Organizations, it often requires the use of HGH – a substance long banned for athletes though championed by Galea himself – in order to ensure a successful result.
There is no word yet on how long it will be until Federal Prosecutors release the lists in question to the media, but you can bet when that happens it will be even bigger than the release of the Mitchell Report. Galea’s client list seems to touch every corner of American Sports, and there is no question that more than a few of these athletes have been prescribed or treated with PED’s. A-Rod has already came out an admitted his use of the banned substances before there was any question of Galea’s credibility, but we can expect to see a firestorm of questions shot the Yankee’s way. So far, none of the athletes on Galea’s list have come under scrutiny – but as the case draws on the media and the fan’s appetite for information will grow. None of the athletes under his care have released statements up to this point, but we can also expect this to change rather quickly as those star’s handlers will surely want to be out ahead of this story.
The question is: what effect will this have on the sports themselves? It has never been against the rules for American Athletes to seek treatment internationally – even though many international treatment specialists do not have to abide by the same standards as American physicians. This, along with the relatively protective shield of the Doctor/Patient relationship allow athletes to continue to outfox the drug testers at every turn.
This case may end up being a watershed moment in the history of American Sports, and a true victory for the Anti-Doping proponents. The release of the names and treatments of dozens of prominent American athletes could spark a massive overhaul in the way athletes get treated and the reporting of those treatments to the organizations they work for.
This certainly is not an indictment on all athletes or professional sports in general, but it will throw the door open into just how far professional athletes are willing to go for success. This case has the potential to ruin the careers of multiple stars in a number of sports and has proven beyond a doubt that though we have made progress in stemming the tide of performance enhancing drugs in sports, we still have a long way to go to even out the playing field.