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A Canadian doctor who has treated Tiger Woods and other elite sports stars is under investigation for allegedly providing illegal performance-enhancing drugs to athletes, according to reports.
Canadian police arrested Dr. Anthony Galea in October after having found human growth hormone and Actovegin, a drug extracted from calf’s blood, in a bag that belonged to the sports medicine specialist at the U.S.-Canada border, The New York Times reported.
Human growth hormone is mostly legal in Canada but banned by many sports organizations. Importing, selling or using Actovegin is illegal in the U.S. Woods has not been accused of using performance enhancing drugs.
Galea faces smuggling, criminal conspiracy and other charges in Canada; the FBI has begun probing medical records investigators found of several unnamed athletes who were Galea's clients, sources told to the Times.
Galea told the paper he has used HGH personally and supplied the drug to Canadian clients. He also told the Times he’s used Actovegin to treat injured players on Toronto’s Argonauts football team.
But he said he never gave those drugs to U.S. athletes or used them with the innovative “platelet therapy” injury recovery program that has made him famous in the sports world.
“It would be impossible” to link his clients to performance-enhancing drugs, he said.
Platelet therapy involves removing a small amount of blood from the patient, spinning it in a centrifuge to separate red blood cells from the platelets and then re-injecting the blood, according to the Times. Proponents claim the treatment fuels new tissue growth tissue or bone cells, while skeptics cite a placebo effect at best.
"Dr. Galea was never engaged in any wrongdoing or any impropriety," his lawyer told The Associated Press. "Not only does he have a reputation that is impeccable, he is a person at the every top of his profession."
Galea told the Times he visited Woods’ Florida home at least four times in February and March to assist with the golfer’s recovery from a June 2008 injury with platelet therapy.
“He said he couldn’t believe how good he feels. He’d joke and say, ‘I can jump up on the kitchen table,’ and I said, ‘Please don’t.’ ” Galea said the golfer texted him two days after his first treatment.
Galea said he continued to treat the golfer and the pair last spoke in October.
“But all this stuff started with the investigation, and I couldn’t go see him,” Galea said.
Last weekend, Woods, the world’s No. 1 golfer, admitted to “infidelities” and announced a hiatus from professional golf to repair his marriage. A string of women now numbering in double figures has been linked to Woods.
Woods' agent Mark Steinberg responded to questions about the embattled golfer’s relationship with Galea in an e-mail to the Times’ that said: “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.”
Other pro athletes who have hired Galea include Olympic swimmer Dara Torres and NFL players Chris Simms and Javon Walker, according to the report.