St. Louis Cardinals pitcher-turned-outfielder, Rick Ankiel received human growth hormone (hGH) from an internet pharmacy at the center of a major performance-enhancing drug distribution ring involving bogus prescriptions dispensed over the internet. According to the New York Daily News, Ankiel received a 12 month supply of human growth hormone from Signature Pharmacy in 2004.
According to records obtained by The News and sources close to the controversy surrounding anti-aging clinics that dispense illegal prescription drugs, Ankiel received eight shipments of HGH from Signature Pharmacy in Orlando from January to December 2004, including the brand-name injectable drugs Saizen and Genotropin. Signature is the pharmacy at the forefront of Albany District Attorney David Soares' two-year investigation into illegal Internet prescription drug sales, which has brought 22 indictments and nine convictions.
Ankiel’s prescription was signed by physician William Gogan, and dispensed through The Health and Rejuvenation Center (THARC) in Palm Beach, Florida. Major League Baseball banned hGH just prior to the 2005 season.
Ankiel, 28, has not been accused by authorities of wrongdoing, and according to the Signature records obtained by The News, he stopped receiving HGH just before Major League Baseball officially banned it in 2005. MLB does not test for HGH, but a player who is known to have used it or even possessed it from the time it was banned can face a 50-game suspension.
Ankiel and his agent, Scott Boras, both declined comment. MLB said they would "look into" the matter, but also declined comment otherwise.
The following day Ankiel addressed the accusations (see video below).
"I'm not going to go into the list of what my doctors have prescribed for me," the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder said when asked specifically whether he had taken HGH as part of his recovery. "I've been through a lot emotionally and physically. There are doctor and patient privileges, and I hope you guys respect those privileges."
"Everything was legal. There was no violation of major league rules. There was no violation of any laws. At this point, if there's anything more to decide, Major League Baseball will look at it and let us know."
“I’m familiar with the clinic… I don't know anything about the pharmacy, and I don't know anyone there. I've never purchased or ordered anything from that pharmacy."
On September 23, New York Daily News reporter TJ Quinn reported intimate details of the receipts linking Ankiel to shipments of Human Growth Hormone.
The package with two months' worth of human growth hormone was addressed to Rick Ankiel, 3345 Burns Road, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. That's the address for The Health and Rejuvenation Center, the "anti-aging" clinic that helped provide his prescriptions for Saizen, Genotropin and vitamin B-12.
Someone named Johnson signed for the FedEx package at 2:37 p.m., Dec. 3, 2003, at the clinic from which Ankiel received HGH. The return address on that package, according to records obtained by the Daily News, was Shipping Department, Signature Pharmacy, 1200 Kuhl Ave., Orlando, Fla.
As Quinn goes on to point out, any suggestion that a player in Ankiel’s position could have obtained and used hGH legally is completely false. That’s what the whole Signature Pharmacy investigation is all about after all, bogus prescriptions for drugs given out for situations in which they are illegal to prescribe. Ankiel and his representatives know that their problems with MLB are essentially legal and that no other player in similar circumstances has been punished (Gary Matthews Jr., Jay Gibbons, Troy Glaus etc.). Their other problem is with public perception.
"For some reason, the public reacts differently to it if a guy says he had a prescription," an MLB official says. "There's a continuum from taking it because you're coming back from surgery, to taking it because you want to be able to pitch more often, to making yourself bigger so you can hit home runs.