Sports doctor pleads guilty in drug case

Wed Jul 6, 2011 10:08pm EDT
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By Neale Gulley

BUFFALO, New York (Reuters) - Toronto sports doctor Anthony Galea, who has treated such athletes as golfer Tiger Woods, admitted on Wednesday to illegally bringing human growth hormones and performance-enhancing drugs into the United States.

Galea faces a likely sentence of 18 to 24 months in prison, but no more than three years behind bars, for his role in transporting the drugs from Canada from early 2007 to September 2009.

Galea collected a total of about $800,000 from patients during that time, according to the plea agreement.

The 51-year-old Canadian physician had been charged in a five-count indictment with smuggling, an offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison if he were convicted.

Under his agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to the less serious offense of introducing misbranded drugs into the country, and the harsher charges he faced were dismissed.

Galea was accused of smuggling such substances as human growth hormones, which is used to aid in muscular and joint recovery time; energy-boosting ATP, which is used in training; and actovegin, a performance-enhancing drug. Human growth hormones are banned by professional sports, and actovegin is not approved for use in the United States.

The case came to light when Galea's assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was arrested in September 2009 carrying drugs as she crossed the Peace Bridge into Buffalo from Ontario, Canada.

She told prosecutors she was planning to meet up with Galea to treat a patient in Washington, D.C. Galea, who specializes in sports medicine, is licensed to practice in Canada but not in the United States.   Continued...