San Francisco Giants outfielder, Jose Guillen, has been linked once again to performance enhancing drugs during a federal investigation. According to the New York Times, Guillen’s wife signed for a shipment of human growth hormone that was delivered by undercover agents after it was intercepted while en route from the Dominican Republic.
According to the Times’ sources, the Giants were "directed" to keep Guillen off of their postseason roster by Major League Baseball. The league reportedly learned of Guillen's involvement just days before the playoffs began. When playoff rosters were set, the team said Guillen was suffering from a sore neck.
This is not the first time Guillen has been linked to PED’s. In 2007 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Guillen had purchased over $19 000 worth of HGH and anabolic steroids from 2002 to 2005 from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center in Florida.
Guillen has been conspicuously absent from the Giants’ dugout during their playoff run. Other players who were left off the postseason roster, like Barry Zito, have been present, though Zito has been with the team much longer.
Both MLB and the Giants have refused comment so far though MLB has reportedly opened an investigation in to the matter.
Friday, October 29, 2010
San Francisco Giants outfielder, Jose Guillen, has been linked once again to performance enhancing drugs during a federal investigation. According to the New York Times, Guillen’s wife signed for a shipment of human growth hormone that was delivered by undercover agents after it was intercepted while en route from the Dominican Republic.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
According to the New York Times, Major League Baseball will institute blood testing for human growth hormone in the minor leagues as early as this year. MLB will also attempt to get the players union to accept blood testing at the Major League level.
MLB issued a statement in response to the Times’ questions which included the following:
"We are consulting with our experts concerning immediate steps for our minor league drug program and next steps for our major league drug program. The commissioner remains committed to the position that we must act aggressively to deal with the issue of HGH."
Most minor league players are not part of the players union and therefore no negotiation is required to implement such a program. The MLB Players Association has resisted the idea of blood testing in the past, but will feel pressure from the league, the public, and possibly some of its own constituents. A concession in blood testing may also provide some leverage while negotiating the next collective bargaining agreement.
MLB has been providing funding for the WADA to develop a urine test for HGH, but the test remains possibly years away. At congressional hearing in 2008, Commissioner Bud Selig said MLB would support an HGH test when it became available.
"When a valid, commercially available and practical test for H.G.H. becomes reality — regardless of whether the test is based on blood or urine — baseball will support the utilization of that test. "
Shortly thereafter, then union leader, Donald Fehr, expressed a willingness to consider a test for HGH if it was viable and accurate.
""If and when a blood test is available and it can be signed and validated by people other than those that are trying to sell it to you… Then we’d have to take a hard look at it."
While most are hailing the positive test in the UK as proof the test is effective, anti-doping expert Charles Yesalis told the Times he is not convinced.
"They have this test for some time and they only caught one guy. I wouldn’t bet my life on that test."
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The world’s first analytical positive test for human growth hormone is on record. Professional rugby player, Terry Newton provided a blood sample to the United Kingdom Anti-Doping agency (UKAD) in November, the test came back positive for HGH. Newton was banned for two years and his team, the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, terminated his contract. Newton did not contest the results according to the New York Daily News report.
This represents a major deterrent for athletes who believe HGH is still not detectable. HGH tests were first said to have been administered at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, but with no positive tests since then, many believed the test was ineffective or possibly just a smokescreen.
The implications for Major League Baseball are obvious. HGH has been banned by Major League Baseball since 2005, but the league has maintained that they do not have a reliable test for the drug.
Baseball has banned growth hormone since 2005, but there is still no HGH testing. Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive, Monday blasted baseball's argument that an effective HGH test is unavailable.
"All of us who have helped develop a test wouldn't put it in place if it wasn't forensically sound and reliable." Tygart told the Daily News. "Particularly in (Newton's) case, it's proof positive the test works."
This probably doesn't change much for MLB. There is still no reliable urine test for HGH, and convincing the union to agree to blood testing would be difficult, so an HGH test in baseball may be a long way off. The union has always maintained that blood testing is too intrusive of its members, though they said the same thing about the current testing program before it was implemented.
There is however, some support for blood-based HGH testing among players, at least publicly. Two years ago, when the issue of HGH was more in the spotlight, Houston Astros’ stars, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt scoffed at the idea that blood testing was more intrusive than urine testing.
Berkman told MLB.com he would gladly provide a blood sample.
"And stage fright's a real deal… If you can't go in front of somebody… you just mentally lock up. I'd rather stick my arm out and they can take blood out of me all day long."
Other players such as Derek Jeter, Jeff Kent, and Chipper Jones said they too would agree to blood testing. This may not represent the overall opinion of the players, especially now. HGH testing in baseball is possible, it may have been for some time, but the issues of intrusiveness, legality and cost remain.
- British professional rugby player Terry Newton tests positive for HGH as MLB on deck for testingNew York Daily News
- HGH test leads to player banESPN
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Convicted steroid/human growth hormone dealer, Kirk Radomski, has provided government investigators with a receipt for a shipment sent to Roger Clemens’ Houston home in 2002 or 2003. Radomski said the package contained two kits of human growth hormone.
"The investigators knew from day one that I sent a package to Clemens' house. They knew before the Mitchell report was released and before Brian went before Congress. So this is nothing new to them.”
"I just couldn't find the receipt. And just by [accident] this weekend, I moved my TV and whatnot and I found the package, an envelope, and it had [Clemens'] receipt and about seven or eight other receipts."
Radomski said he immediately called steroid investigator Jeff Novitzky who was in New York at the time. The following day Novitzky and assistant U.S. Attorney from San Francisco, Matthew Parrella visited Radomski and picked up the evidence.
"They were happy that I found it, because they thought they would never find it," Radomski said. "I'd told them, 'I know that it was in my house.' I said, 'You guys sure you didn't take it [in the original raid]?' It just happened to turn up."
The timeline roughly corresponds to when Brian McNamee injected Clemens’ wife, Debbie, prior to the Clemens’ photo shoot for Sports Illustrated. Clemens stated before congress that he was unaware of his wife’s injection until after it had happened. The shipment, presumably signed for by a Clemens, contradicts said testimony.
"It was addressed to Clemens as a hold for Brian McNamee. Brian knows what he did with it. They signed for it, because all my packages you always had to sign for. Brian never signed for the package. The package got there before Brian got down there."
Radomski claims to have sent at least one other shipment to Clemens though he doesn’t have the receipt. He also said he was prepared to provide an affidavit in support of Clemens’ former trainer, McNamee, in the defamation suit filed by Clemens.
The evidence should aid McNamee’s defense in the defamation suit as well as the government’s investigation as to whether Clemens committed perjury.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Atlanta Braves prospect Jordan Schafer has been suspended for 50 games for using human growth hormone (hGH) under the minor league drug policy.
It is believed that Schafer was caught as part of an investigation by Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations, an investigative group formed this past January after being recommended by Senator George Mitchell in the Mitchell Report.
Schafer was the first player to receive a suspension based on the work of the Department of Investigations.
The Department of Investigations utilizes a hotline in which players or club employees can provide information about possible drug use anonymously. It’s not known if this is how the department got their initial information about Schafer. There is currently no test for human growth hormone.
"This is not something that came from a government investigation," said an MLB source who requested anonymity, speaking about the Schafer case. "It came from a team of investigators following what Mitchell recommended."
Schafer, 21, was one of the Braves’ top prospects going into the season. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him as the 27th best prospect in all of minor league baseball (subscription required). Many believed Schafer would take over centerfield for the Braves later this year or possibly next year. What will happen now is anyone’s guess.
Schafer's father told ESPN.com's Mike Fish that his son did not fail a drug test and did not purchase HGH from an online pharmacy or supplier.
"At this point he would love to comment, but under counsel's advice he can't. He says he loves the Braves. He wants to play his entire career with the Braves. He loves the city and the fans of Atlanta. It hurts him that he can't make a comment, but under advice he just can't make a comment right now."
In a prepared statement, Braves general manager Frank Wren said the team supported both Schafer and MLB’s drug policy.
"We are extremely disappointed that Jordan has violated the Commissioner's Performance Enhancing Drug Policy. We are supportive of the program and will continue to educate all of our players. Earlier today Jordan asked to speak to his teammates to apologize for the mistakes he has made and for letting the organization and his team down. During his suspension, we will continue to support and counsel Jordan."
Sunday, March 09, 2008
More and more prominent players are coming forward saying they support blood testing in Major League Baseball. Some were even in favor of giving samples to be frozen until a reliable human growth hormone test is available. Both MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, and Players Association president, Don Fehr, have said they will consider such a test when one becomes available. There is currently no commercially available/reliable test for human growth hormone, but one appears on the way soon.
The World Anti-Doping Agency recently said that an effective blood test for hGH would be in place for the Beijing Olympics. Athletes were tested during the 2004 Athens and 2006 Turin Olympics but tests revealed no positive results. Because those tests were only administered at the games themselves they could easily be beaten simply by letting the drug clear one’s system. The new test should allow for year round testing and according to WADA director, David Howman, would catch athletes using hGH within a timeframe of "more than 48 hours."
Not wanting athletes to have information that might help them beat the test, WADA president, John Fahey, wouldn’t give details of how the test worked but was very confident that it was airtight.
"We all know these things end up in court more often than not. It's got to withstand the legal challenge as well. No reason to believe that all of that won't be in place and that there will be a capacity to test at the Beijing Olympics."
This offseason was a dramatic one for Major League Baseball, with the Mitchell Report’s release and the Clemens/McNamee dispute the issue of performance enhancing drugs affected everyone in the game. Now that players are all at spring training they’re being asked their opinions about matters such blood testing for hGH.
Players such as outspoken Los Angeles Dodger, Jeff Kent, the Indians’ CC Sabathia, and the Rockies’ Matt Holiday said they were willing to give blood samples even if the test isn’t ready yet.
"I'd like to see every player take a blood test and have the samples frozen… Not everyone in the game is using HGH, but I would bet it still is being abused.”
"Why not have blood tests? If ultimately you want a clean game, then it needs to happen.”
"Obviously, we've got some work to do with the growth hormone issue, and I think some people have said it: 'Start taking blood now, and keep 'em until we've got a good test.' I mean, I'm all in favor of whatever we have to do to clean the game up and get rid of the stuff they say is undetectable,"
The Houston Astros’ Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman both said they would submit to blood testing and refuted the idea that such a test would be an invasion of privacy as the union has claimed in the past.
In a nutshell, the test administrator is present, and watching, while the player is submitting his sample. Oswalt said he would rather give blood than have someone watch him urinate.
"If that's not an invasion of privacy, what is?" (Oswalt) said.
"And stage fright's a real deal," he said. "If you can't go in front of somebody ... you just mentally lock up. I'd rather stick my arm out and they can take blood out of me all day long."
Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter also said they were willing submit to blood testing but were somewhat skeptical.
"I don't care. I'm not on anything, so it doesn't bother me. The only people I would say who would object would be people afraid of needles, or who are on something."
"You're talking about individual guys coming out and saying they wouldn't mind. I'm sure if [players union head] Don Fehr sat us down and listed the pros and cons, and what the majority of players thought, it might be different."
"I think it would be a positive, but then they would come up with something else and people would say, 'They should test for something else.' Where does it stop?"
At the annual dinner of the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Mike Lowell spoke about how important it is to have a reliable test before it is implemented.
"If it's 99 percent accurate, that's going to be seven false positives. Ninety-three percent is 70 guys. That's almost three whole rosters.”
"You're destroying someone's reputation. What if one of the false positives is Cal Ripken? Doesn't it put a black mark on his career?"
This is a very legitimate concern. Implementing an hGH test that wasn’t completely reliable would greatly affect the integrity of the testing program. Not only would such a test hurt the victim of a false-positive, but every player who really did test positive would have a legitimate way to cast doubt on their own test result.
Major League Baseball Players’ Association president, Don Fehr, recently said the union would consider a blood test for hGH but only when it was proven to be reliable.
"If and when a blood test is available and it can be signed and validated by people other than those that are trying to sell it to you, then we'd have to take a hard look at it."
Friday, December 07, 2007
Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen were each suspended 15 days by Major League Baseball for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Neither player has failed a MLB mandated test. The suspensions will take place at the beginning of the 2008 season.
Instead Guillen and Gibbons were linked to anti-aging clinics illegally distributing anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (hGH) to players. Their connection to the clinics was turned up by an Albany based grand jury investigating anti-aging clinics and wellness centers providing drugs with bogus prescriptions from doctors.
Gary Matthews Jr., Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus and Scott Schoeneweis also were linked to performance-enhancing drugs in similar media reports, but MLB said there was "insufficient evidence" to determine they violated the drug policy which only contained penalties for using drugs starting in the 2004 season.
This may give us some perspective on how MLB will deal with the findings from George Mitchell’s investigation which is expected to be released December 13, 2007. If Mitchell “names names” and outlines solid evidence other players may be suspended in a similar manner.
Guillen was recently signed to a three-year $36 million contract by the Kansas City Royals. General Manager, Dayton Moore, sounded confident that Guillen’s drug use was behind him.
"We signed Jose knowing that was a possibility. While my initial reaction is one of disappointment, I am thoroughly convinced that Jose will put this behind him and we collectively support him as he begins a new chapter in his baseball life."
In October 2006, it was reported that Gibbons had been named in the Jason Grimsley affidavit. Grimsley reportedly said Gibbons, along with Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada, all “took anabolic steroids.” The reports that lead to this suspension cited receipts indicating Gibbons acquired hGH as well as testosterone (considered an anabolic steroid) and human chorionic gonadotropin, “a hormone produced naturally during pregnancy, but taken by anabolic steroid users to stimulate the production of testosterone, which is suppressed as a result of steroid use.”
Gibbons admission only referenced the human growth hormone.
"I am deeply sorry for the mistakes that I have made. I have no excuses and bare sole responsibility for my decisions. Years ago, I relied on the advice of a doctor, filled a prescription, charged the HGH, which is a medication, to my credit card and had only intended to help speed my recovery from my injuries and surgeries."
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Matt Williams, Jose Guillen, Ismael Valdez linked to Steroids, hGH from Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center
Three more players were linked to anabolic steroid and human growth hormone purchases through the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center in Florida. Two former players, Matt Williams and Ismael Valdez, along with current player Jose Guillen are said to have purchased performance-enhancing drugs in the article written by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada of BALCO fame.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle report, Guillen is said to have ordered more than $19,000 worth of drugs from the anti-aging clinic between May 2002 and June 2005. In February 2007, he was quoted by ESPN as saying he had been approached about using steroids earlier in his career but had declined.
"That is something I never considered in my life… You're ruining your whole career. You're ruining your reputation. This really is hurting baseball right now, the image of the game."
However, records reviewed by the Chronicle indicated that Guillen bought four different kinds of anabolic steroids (Nandrolone, Testosterone Cypionate, Testosterone Propionate, Stanozolol) and three different brands of human growth hormone (Somatropin and two unmentioned) over the three year span. Some of the shipments were sent to the Oakland Coliseum while he was a member of the A’s. Guillen also ordered Clomophine and Novarel, both drugs typically used by players using steroids to increase the natural production of testosterone which is curbed while using anabolic steroids.
Long-time San Francisco Giant and one-time Arizona Diamondback, Matt Williams, best know for his run at Roger Maris home run record in 1994 before the strike ended the season, is said to have ordered $16 000 worth of performance-enhancing drugs in 2002 while a member of the Diamondbacks. According to records reviewed by the Chronicle, Williams list includes anabolic steroids (Nandrolone and Testosterone Cypionate) hGH, Clomiphene and Novarel.
In an unusual twist, records indicate that Williams also ordered over $11 000 worth of hGH and syringes in 2004 and 2005 after he retired as a player.
In a phone interview November 5, Williams said a doctor advised him to try growth hormone to heal a serious ankle injury he suffered during spring training in 2002. Williams declined to answer questions about the steroids he reportedly acquired, nor did he comment on the purchases he made after he retired.
As for Ismael Valdez, records indicate that he bought over $11 000 worth of performance-enhancing drugs in 2002 while a member of the Seattle Mariners. Spanning four separate orders, Valdez acquired hGH, Clomophine, Novarel and Arimidex. Arimidex is “prescribed for women with breast cancer, but experts say it is taken by male steroid users to counter side effects such as the growth of breast tissue.” It’s interesting that Valdez ordered three drugs typically used in conjunction with anabolic steroids but no steroids themselves.
It should also be noted that Guillen, Williams and Valdez all had prescriptions written by the same dentist that prescribed human growth hormone to Paul Byrd. The dentist had his license suspended in 2003 for fraud and incompetence.
Below are descriptions of each players’ orders in context as compiled by the Chronicle.
On May 1, 2002, while he was playing for the Diamondbacks, Guillen placed his first order with the Florida center, paying by wire transfer for $2,180 worth of growth hormone, the steroids testosterone cypionate and nandrolone and syringes, the records show. The drugs were shipped to a Phoenix address. Guillen struggled with the Diamondbacks in 2002, hitting .229 with just four homers before being released in midseason.
Guillen started the 2003 season with the Cincinnati Reds and was having a career year when he was traded to the playoff-bound A's on July 30. On Sept. 19, 2003, Guillen used a credit card to order $2,083 worth of Genotropin, a brand name for human growth hormone, along with the steroids testosterone propionate and stanozolol and syringes and needles, to be shipped to him "c/o Oakland Athletics-Oakland Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621," records show.
In 45 games with the A's, Guillen hit .265 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. During the team's American League Division Series loss to Boston, he batted .455. His season totals were a .311 average, 31 homers and 86 RBIs.
Guillen signed a free-agent contract to play for the Anaheim Angels in 2004. In July, in the midst of a season in which he would hit .294 with 27 home runs and 104 RBIs, records show Guillen placed a $6,000 order for growth hormone, testosterone propionate and syringes. He also ordered two drugs - clomiphene and Novarel - taken by steroid users to stimulate the production of natural testosterone. That shipment, purchased with a credit card, was sent to a house in San Clemente (Orange County) where Guillen lived at the time, records show.
It was not clear from the records whether two other orders for growth hormone and syringes placed by Guillen were actually delivered: a $4,869.50 order placed in September 2003, when he was with the A's; and a $5,000 order placed in June 2005, when he was with the Washington Nationals.
From 1987 to 1996, Williams was one of the Giants' most popular players. His best year in San Francisco was 1993, when he batted .294 with 38 home runs and 100 RBIs. In 1994, he was on pace to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record, but a labor dispute ended the season in August, and he finished with 43 home runs. After the 1996 season, many Giants fans were irate when he was sent to Cleveland in the Jeff Kent trade. Williams was traded the following year to Arizona and finished his career there in 2003.
During his penultimate season in Arizona, records show, Williams placed two orders with the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center. On March 9, 2002, while the Diamondbacks were in spring training in Tucson, records show he ordered $5,693 worth of testosterone cypionate, growth hormone, clomiphene, Novarel and syringes. On May 8, Williams ordered $6,000 worth of testosterone cypionate, nandrolone, clomiphene, Novarel and syringes, according to the records. The drugs were sent to a Scottsdale business office Williams long has used as a mailing address. Williams' prescriptions were written by the same dentist who prescribed growth hormone for Byrd and Guillen.
Injuries limited Williams to just 60 games in 2002, and he hit .260 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. He retired the following June after playing in just 43 games. Today he works as a broadcaster on Diamondbacks games. In 2004 and 2005, after he had retired as a player, Williams placed three orders totaling about $11,000 for additional growth hormone and syringes, according to the records.
Since retiring, Williams has publicly questioned the performance-enhancing value of steroids for baseball players. In April 2004, while the BALCO steroids scandal was beginning to unfold, Williams said he hoped Giants outfielder Barry Bonds would be exonerated in the case, and he downplayed the impact the drugs might have on a player's power hitting.
"The other side of that coin is, you still have to hit the ball out of the ballpark. You still have to hit the ball properly," Williams told reporters at the time.
"If you put some foreign substance in your body, you don't all of a sudden learn how to hit homers," he said. "The question is: Are they illegal? Yes. If you get caught doing it, should you be punished? Yes. What that is, I don't know. I had a hard enough time playing third base."
In a phone interview Monday, Williams said that after his 2002 ankle injury, a doctor told him that growth hormone might help him heal. He said he learned about the Florida center from a health magazine and went through a battery of tests before obtaining a prescription for growth hormone in 2002.
"I didn't like the effects it had on my body," said Williams, saying he stopped using the drug that season.
Williams said he had no knowledge that a dentist was prescribing growth hormone for him. He said he wasn't familiar with the drug clomiphene, nor did he comment on the steroids that were ordered. He declined to comment on orders placed with the center after he retired.
Valdez burst onto the major-league scene in 1994, a hot pitching prospect from Mexico who, then 20, was the youngest player in the National League. He pitched six seasons for the Dodgers, before being traded to the Cubs before the 2000 season. Over the following six seasons, he changed teams eight more times.
On Sept. 7, 2002, about a month after he was traded from the Rangers to the Mariners, records indicate Valdez used a credit card to buy nearly $2,500 worth of growth hormone through the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center. The invoice listed the primary shipping address as 1000 Ball Park Way, Arlington, Texas - the Rangers' stadium. A backup address was an apartment in downtown Seattle.
Ten days later, Valdez spent $2,337.50 on the drugs Novarel, Clomid - a brand name for clomiphene - and Arimidex. Arimidex is prescribed for women with breast cancer, but experts say it is taken by male steroid users to counter side effects such as the growth of breast tissue. The drugs were shipped to the Seattle address.
On Oct. 14, two weeks after the season ended, Valdez used a credit card to buy $6,258.60 worth of growth hormone, Novarel and syringes, according to the records.
Finally, on Oct. 22, Valdez placed a $375 order for more Arimidex. The last two orders were shipped to a relative's home in Brownville, Texas, the records show. Valdez's prescriptions were written by the same dentist who prescribed the drugs to Byrd, Guillen and Williams.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Just five days ago Cleveland Indians pitcher, Paul Byrd, helped his team beat the Boston Red Sox giving the Indians a 3-1 series lead. Now he finds himself on the front page again, this time linked to nearly $25 000 worth of human growth hormone.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Byrd was prescribed and sent more than 1000 vials of human growth hormone and hundreds of syringes between August 2002 and January 2005 while a member of the Royals and Braves. Receipts showed Byrd spent $24 850 on hGH prescriptions through the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, an anti-aging clinic that was investigated for illegally distributing anabolic steroids and hGH with bogus prescriptions. PBRC vice president, Joe Raich, and Dr. Robert Carlson, a physician associated with the clinic, have both pleaded guilty to felony drug and fraud charges in the case.
Byrd’s story is a bit different from others connected to anti-aging clinics in Florida. For one, Byrd admitted using the human growth hormone, and two, Byrd may have had a legitimate reason to take the drugs. The following day Byrd explained his drug use maintaining that they were only used under “a doctor’s care and supervision.” As mentioned many times at this site, this is an extremely flimsy excuse for acquiring hGH from an anti-aging clinic. The Chronicle touched on the legal uses for the drug.
Human growth hormone is a powerful medicine used to treat dwarfism in children and AIDS wasting disease. It is illegal to use the drug without a valid prescription and a doctor's supervision. It also is illegal for doctors to prescribe growth hormone for uses not specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Adult growth hormone deficiency is one of the F.D.A. approved uses for human growth hormone.
Byrd told FOX sports’ Ken Rosenthal that his deficiency was legitimate but didn’t explain why he got two prescriptions from a dentist who later had his license suspended in 2003 for “fraud and incompetence.”
Byrd said that three different doctors diagnosed him as suffering from adult growth-hormone deficiency. In spring training, he said, he was diagnosed with a tumor on his pituitary gland at the base of his brain, a condition that may have contributed to his deficiency, doctors told him.
"The Indians, my coaches and MLB have known that I have had a pituitary gland issue for some time and have assisted me in getting blood tests in different states. I am currently working with an endocrinologist and will have another MRI on my head after the season to make sure that the tumor hasn't grown."
Rosenthal quoted some interesting passages from Byrd’s yet to be released book, The Free Byrd Project.
"At the insistence of a close friend, I went and had my hormones checked… To my surprise, the doctor told me that I was producing very little growth hormone and prescribed a dosage to help me out. I didn't like sticking a needle in my inner thigh each night but I sure did enjoy the sleep that occurred afterwards. My life changed during that time and I was able to work out more, experience less fatigue and recover quicker from pitching.”
"Like the other temptations that I've mentioned in this book, I had a new one to deal with one night when I stuck that needle in the hormone-filled bottle. I wondered if I doubled my prescribed dose, whether or not I would throw harder and have a better and possibly longer career. After all, I had a prescription.”
"Some strange silent voices ran across my brain and had conversations with me as I pulled back the syringe. I remember having thoughts that doing better on the field could mean more money for my family, my charities and even supporting churches. Then I prayed and realized that God was in control of my life and he wouldn't want me making money through cheating the system."
Like most stories from the Steroid Era, Byrd’s is full of contradictions. If Byrd’s hHG use was warranted by a legitimate growth hormone deficiency, why did he receive two prescriptions from a dentist? Why didn’t he get a waiver from Major League Baseball? Why isn’t he still using it now?
Monday, September 10, 2007
Jay Gibbons Received Steroids and Human Growth Hormone (hGH) from Signature Pharmacy Between 2003 to 2005
Add Jay Gibbons to the list of players sent performance-enhancing drugs from Signature Pharmacy. The Baltimore Orioles outfielder reportedly received human growth hormone, testosterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (which is not banned by Major League Baseball).
A source in Florida with knowledge of Signature Pharmacy's client list alleges that between October 2003 and July 2005, Gibbons received six separate shipments of Genotropin (a brand name for synthetic Human Growth Hormone), two shipments of testosterone and two shipments of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone produced naturally during pregnancy, but taken by anabolic steroid users to stimulate the production of testosterone, which is suppressed as a result of steroid use. The information regarding Gibbons only pertains to receipt and not actual use of the drugs.
Gibbons procured the steroids and hGH through the South Beach Rejuvenation Center/Modern Therapy, a Miami Beach anti-aging clinic. The prescriptions were filled by Signature Pharmacy, the Orlando, Florida based compounding pharmacy raided during an investigation of a major performance-enhancing drug distribution ring involving bogus prescriptions dispensed over the internet.
Of the two prescribing physicians in Gibbons' file, one was A. Almarashi. Investigators believe Almarashi is an alias for a Queens, N.Y., doctor, Ana Maria Santi, who was stripped of her medical license in 1999, but continued writing bogus prescriptions for thousands of on-line customers she never examined. In July 2007, Santi pleaded guilty to a felony count of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions, making her the first person to do so in a case spearheaded by the Albany County (NY) District Attorneys office and New York State's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.
Gibbons was reportedly named in the Jason Grimsley affidavit. Grimsley said Gibbons (along with Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada) “took anabolic steroids.” In the same affidavit Grimsley claimed Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte took “athletic performance-enhancing drugs.” When the details from Grimsley’s affidavit were leaked to the media in October 2006, Gibbons denied the claims.
"I have passed every test administered by Major League Baseball over all the years. And I am not going to dignify these claims and accusations with any further response."
ESPN reported September 18, 2007 that Gibbons had met with officials from the Commissioner’s Office to discuss the media reports linking him to Signature Pharmacy. Gibbons sat down with Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, and Jon Coyles, the director of drug testing. Gibbons was accompanied by Michael Weiner, general counsel of the players' association, and Seth Levinson, one of Gibbons' agents.
"I met with Major League Baseball representatives [yesterday] and was happy to answer all of their questions,"
Friday, September 07, 2007
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.
Monday, April 30, 2007
The following quotes are taken word for word from Kirk Radomski’s Plea Agreement signed by Radomski, Assistant United States Attorney, Matthew Perrella, and Radomski’s attorney, John Reilly on April 28, 2007.
From section entitled The Defendant’s Promises
Beginning in 1995 and continuing through until December 14, 2005 when a search warrant was executed at my residence, I distributed anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, including Human Growth Hormone and Clenbuterol, as well as amphetamines, to dozens of current and former Major League Baseball players (on teams spread throughout Major league Baseball) and associates. I deposited the payments for theose anabolic steroids into my personal bank account and I then used the proceeds to finance my residence, which was the base of operation, warehouse, and communication center for my anabolic steroid-dealing business.
During my past employment in Major League Baseball I developed contacts with Major League Baseball players throughout the country to hwom I subsequently distributed anabolic steroids and athletic performance-enhancing drugs. I had personal contact with some of my baseball drug clents, but consultled and conducted drug transactions with others over the telephone and the mail.
On December 7, 2005, I received an order for anabolic steroids that I believed was for a friend of a prior steroid cuastomer who wanted to have the steroids shipped to San Jose, California. I shipped a package containing two vials of deca-durabolin and two vials of testosterone, both anabolic steroids, to the San Jose address. I knew that these items were anabolic steroids and that it was illegal for me to distribute them.
I agree to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office before and after I am sentenced. My cooperation will include, but will not be limited to, the following:
a. I will respond truthfully and completely to any and all questions put to me, whether in interviews, before a grand jury or at any trial or other proceeding;
b. I will provide all documents and other material asked for by the government;
c. I will testify truthfully at any grand jury, court or other proceeding as requested by the government;
D and E are omitted because they deal with Radomski's sentencing and his surrendering of assets.
f. I will not reveal my cooperation, or any information related to it, to anyone without prior consent of the government.
g. I will paricipate in undercover activitiesunder the supervision of law enforcement agents of the U.S. Attorney's Office.
h. I will cooperate with non-governmental anti-doping agencies at the direction of the government. I understand that this cooperation may include interviews, statements, or other proceedings.
Radomski appears to have totally given everything up to the government. He's already been working with investigators, and though he has promised not to reveal information without the goverment's consent, a grand jury or the Mitchel Investigation could reveal the scope of his dealings.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Kirk J. Radomski, a former batboy, clubhouse assistant and equipment manager for the New York Mets, admitted to distributing a variety of performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids and hGH, to ‘dozens’ of Major League Baseball players from 1995 to 2005 when his home was raided by investigators, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court April 27, 2007.
The Washington Post (and now several other news sources) are reporting that Radomski, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of distributing anabolic steroids and one count of felony money laundering. He is facing a maximum of 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. It is possible that Radomski has been cooperating with the government since December 2005.
It has been reported that on Radomski's 2005 Search Warrant, Radomski had named specific players to whom he had sold performance-enhancing drugs. Several major media outlets have now reviewed the document but no names have come out. Sports Illustrated, which also has reviewed the warrant, reported that "at least one player associated with BALCO also has been implicated."
According to the New York Daily News, after the guilty plea was filed, the MLB Players Association immediately began calling players telling them to be prepared in case they were named by Radomski. Players Association officials said they did not know the names of the players involved. Radomski also reportedly gave the names to former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who is leading the official MLB investigation into the game’s performance-enhancing drug problems.
Radomski's plea marks an unprecedented level of cooperation between MLB and government investigators/officials. Mitchell is a former prosecutor, but doesn’t have the power to compel testimony in the MLB investigation. Radomski's plea deal requires him to cooperate with both the government’s ongoing investigation and Senator Mitchell’s investigation.
Radomski worked for the Mets from 1985-1995, but supposedly didn’t start giving drugs to baseball players until 1995. It’s pretty hard to believe that Radomski wasn’t selling steroids while he was employed by the Mets. While it’s logical that Radomski could have made plenty of contacts in the Mets clubhouse to become a major supplier of steroids and other drugs to players, the fact that Radomski started selling drugs immediately after ceasing employment with the Mets seems like a convenient coincidence for Major League Baseball and the Mets Organization (not to mention Radomski). It looks so bad on baseball as a whole when the dealers are entrenched right in the clubhouse and is reminiscent of MLB and Pittsburgh’s cocaine issue in the 1980’s. Rest assured that MLB, the government and Radomski all benefit from the timelines laid out by investigators, and are all fully cooperating with eachother.
From a statement issued by the New York Mets released April 26, 2007:
"We were surprised and disappointed to learn of the guilty plea today. The conduct in question is diametrically opposed to the values and standards of the Mets organization and our owners. We are and always have been adamantly opposed to the use of performance-enhancing drugs and continue to support Major League Baseball's efforts to eradicate any such use in our game."
A confidential informant told the FBI that Radomski was a major drug source in professional baseball who ‘took over’ after BALCO fell in 2003, according to a federal search warrant affidavit filed in connection with the case. In that affidavit, IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky said that in February 2005 he received a tip from a confidential FBI source that Radomski was a major steroid dealer supplying Major League Baseball Players. The source placed five separate orders for drugs with Radomski through an unnamed Major League Baseball source beginning the following month.
The source also said Radomski provided drugs to at least one MLB player publicly associated with the BALCO. Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and seven other current and former players have been implicated in the BALCO investigation thus far.
Radomski was caught talking on a wire tap and agents obtained checks that players had written to him, as well as the phone numbers for several players. Then on December 14, 2005, human growth hormone (hGH), anabolic steroids, clomiphene, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and clenbuterol were seized during a search of Radomski's New York home.
Insulin-like growth factor-1, long thought to be the next generation of performance-enhancing drugs in sport had not previously been connected to baseball players. Experts have assumed for sometime that players were using IGF-1; the drug is now officially linked to baseball.
From Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella:
"This individual was a major dealer of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs whose clientele was focused almost exclusively on Major League Baseball players. He operated for approximately a decade."
Radomski agreed to testify at any grand jury proceeding requested by the government and participate in undercover activities under the supervision of law enforcement officials as part of the plea deal. His ability to aid the government is hugely diminished now that his name has been made public.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Two owners of MedXLife, a prescription drug website now linked to Signatue Pharmacy, have pleaded guilty to felony third-degree diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions. Greg Trotta, 38, and Brian Schafler, 34 admitted they helped get steroids for customers and have agreed to testify against parties involved.
In court, Schafler said that he "put in the order" and that he spoke with customers and then had them speak with Dr. Gary Brandwein, another owner of MedXLife.com. Brandwein then signed and sent the prescriptions that were filled by Signature Pharmacy before being sent to the ‘patient.’ This was all done without any ‘patient’ every meeting any doctor in person. Often the customers would not even be in the same state.
MedXLife.com was the second largest supplier of customers to Signature Pharmacy, one of the pharmacies raided in Orlando, Florida at the center of the steroid and
It’s a very slick website, with pictures of a sterile facility and all sorts of seals and assurances that everything was legal and top quality. It’s strange to think that any internet site, or clinic for that matter could be so blatantly fraudulent, and in doing so potentially convince people that what they were doing was legal and legitimate. Who knows what happens when you speak to a MedXLife Doctor, but browsing that site make one feel like anything they did through it would be perfectly legal and moral. This isn’t to make excuses for the people purchasing human growth hormone or steroids, but the idea that this site is so imbued with professionalism and legitimacy but was completely fraudulent is a scary one.
From the MedXLife Website:
MEDX Life is a U.S. based company, with a full team of certified U.S. physicians, counselors, and support staff. Our MEDX Life team continues to adhere to the highest medical standards and up to date protocols for all of your anti-aging requirements. All products are strictly packaged and shipped from a certified U.S. pharmacy.
MedXLife.com used an affiliate program (wherein MedXLife would pay anyone a commission if they referred a sale) and purchased traffic from yahoo and other companies. Only three years old, MedXLife was doing $5 million in business a year.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Sports Illustrated reporters, Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim have uncovered yet another former major league baseball player who reportedly acquired performance-enhancing drugs this time from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center (PBRC). The PBRC did $17 million worth of business with Signature Pharmacy, one of the pharmacies raided in February at the center of the internet performance-enhancing drug distribution investigation.
"According to documents we've reviewed, Darren Holmes -- a former major league pitcher for 13 seasons with eight teams (including five years with the Rockies) -- received somatropin (the generic name for synthetically produced HGH) and testosterone through Palm Beach Rejuvenation in October 2003. The order was shipped to Holmes in Arden, N.C., but was billed to the PBRC."
Sports Illustrated contacted Holmes, who last played for the Atlanta Braves in 2003.
"He was very up front with us and admitted ordering and receiving the HGH. He says the testosterone was included -- unsolicited, he says -- in the package. He says he ordered the growth hormone after trolling the Internet and looking for an alternative cure to his shoulder pain. "I'm being as honest as I can," he says. "[When the box came] my wife looked at me and said, 'Are you sure you really want to do this?' I said, 'You know what, I'm not comfortable. I don't know if this is right for me.'" He says the unsolicited testosterone made him particularly skeptical. "I threw the box away and never used it."
This is an interesting twist taken at face value. The idea that testosterone would be shipped along with human growth hormone without the customer/patient’s knowledge implies that the PBRC was not just selling drugs but doping athletes. It’s tantamount to sending a steroid cocktail to a professional athlete. Holmes’ take is somewhat more believable than others as he received the shipment after what would be his final season in the major leagues and seemed to be quite candid with Llosa and Wertheim.
Two more former major league baseball players were reported to be on Applied Pharmacy Services customer list. The pharmacy in Mobile, Alabama is one of the pharmacies that was raided as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation into the sale of drugs including steroids and growth hormones over the internet. Sports Illustrated’s in-depth coverage led by reporters, Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim has now turned up former Braves closer, John Rocker and former Philies third baseman, David Bell.
"No birth date was indicated on the prescriptions, but according to the Applied database, former Atlanta Braves reliever John Rocker received two prescriptions for somatropin between April and July 2003."
Initially, Rocker’s publicist, Debi Curzio, confirmed to the New York Daily News that Rocker had received the human growth hormone, but said that Rocker had attained it with a valid prescription and used for medical reasons.
"That was a growth hormone that was prescribed by a doctor in relation to his rotator cuff surgery in 2003, so I don't really think there is anything to the story"
Later, on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd” Rocker contradicted Curzio:
"I was trying to pitch all the way up until a week before I had my surgery. And obviously feeling as bad as I was, I called every doctor I could (to find out) what can I do to strengthen my shoulder and give me more arm strength. Every one of them said go to a GNC, buy something over the counter, human growth hormone, these very several amino acids ... basically (that) is the way it's done."
"I never had a prescription for any HGH. If somebody's got a beef to make with me, show me a prescription."
Former Philies third baseman, David Bell, ordered and received Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) from Applied Pharmacy in April 2006.
“David Bell, a veteran of a dozen major league seasons, received six packages of HCG at a Philadelphia address last April, when he played for the Phillies. The cost was $128.80, and the drug was prescribed in conjunction with an Arizona antiaging facility.”
When Bell spoke to Sports Illustrated he admitted receiving the hCG, but said it was for “a medical condition” he declined to disclose due to privacy concerns.
HCG is a peptide hormone produced by women during pregnancy. HCG used as medication is either derived from the urine of pregnant women (brand names Pregnyl®, Follutein®, Profasi®, and Novarel®), or a recombinant synthetic version (Ovidrel®). Typically hGC is used in treatments to induce ovulation in women or testosterone production in men.
HCG is not a steroid or growth hormone, rather for athletes it is a drug generally used with anabolic steroids. When males take anabolic steroids their bodies cease their own production of testosterone. HCG helps restore/maintain testosterone production in the testes and it typically is used during and after cycles of steroids.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Another major league baseball player has been linked to the internet steroid and human growth hormone distribution investigation. The investigation out of the Albany District Attorney’s Office has already implicated Los Angeles Angels outfielder Gary Matthews Jr., retired players Jason Grimsley and Jose Canseco, as well as others from outside of baseball. Sports Illustrated reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim were the first to report specifically that Matthew Jr. had ordered human growth hormone and are now to report the same of Hairston Jr.
From Llosa and Wertheim's article on Hairston Jr. March 2, 2007:
“According to a law enforcement document we've reviewed, in May 2004, a doctor A. Almarashi of Queens prescribed Genotropin (human growth hormone) that was sent from Allied Pharmacy -- the compound pharmacy raided in Mobile, Ala., last fall -- to Rangers infielder Jerry Hairston, Jr.”
UPDATE: As of 4:35 pm, Si.com has corrected the apparent typo. Hairston received his human growth hormone from "Applied Pharmacy Services," the same pharmacy used by Gary Matthews Jr. The above quote has been revised to say "Applied Pharmacy Services" instead of "Allied Pharmacy."
It’s unclear at this point if “Allied Pharmacy” is a third pharmacy involved in the investigation, and the second out of Mobile, Alabama, or if it is simply a typo. According to SI.com it was “Applied Pharmacy Services” that reportedly sent human growth hormone to Gary Matthews Jr. in 2004.
Searches on Google, MSN, and Yahoo quickly showed a home page for “Applied Pharmacy Services” in Mobile, Alabama, but none had a page for “Allied Pharmacy.” Aside from an official home page, there was no prominent information indicating a pharmacy by that name at all. Given that this is internet drug distribution case it seems unlikely there would be no prominent page. Even if the site was removed (perhaps when the pharmacy was raided ‘last fall’) by government investigators, there would still be out-dated links to it, reviews, articles, or entries in lists of pharmacies, or a Yellow Pages entry, or something somewhere.
In response to the idea that there are likely many people with the name, Jerry Hairston, the Sports Illustrated reporters said:
“Investigators tell us the drugs were sent to addresses in Maryland and Arizona that trace to Jerry Hairston, Jr. Also the document we reviewed indicates that the birth date for the patient file was listed as May 29, 1976, but the prescription database indicates a DOB of May 29, 1967; Hairston Jr.'s birth date, according to MLB.com, is May 29, 1976. The document indicates investigators' belief that the last two numbers of the birth year as noted in the prescription database were inverted.”
This means there were at least two different shipments, one sent to Maryland and one to Arizona, both traceable to Hairston Jr.
Harriston's response to Sports Illustrated:
"It's disturbing... I have no idea what this is about. I'm really in the dark... Not one time have I taken steroids or anything like that. I would never do anything like that to jeopardize my career or my family's name... I know I'm going to be OK because I know what I've done and haven't done... I would never do anything to discredit the game. The game has been good not only to myself but my entire family."
The reporters fairly pointed out that these pharmacies are so crooked that it’s conceivable that someone could use the name of a professional baseball player (or anyone else) and still receive a bogus prescription for performance-enhancing drugs.
“No one is alleging the use of performance-enhancing drugs. This investigation is about a distribution pipeline. With respect to the athlete-clients, the allegation is that drugs were sent to them through a DEA-raided compound pharmacy. In theory, anyone could go to one of these anti-aging Web sites, register falsely under the name of a prominent athlete, and get a prescription for a banned substance in that athlete's name -- that's how shadowy some of the anti-aging clinics and prescribing doctors appear to be.”
Thursday, March 01, 2007
A new report at Sports Illustrated claims Gary Matthews Jr. was not only on a customer list from Applied Pharmacy Services in Mobile, Alabama, but he ordered a shipment of human growth hormone (hGH) in 2004. Reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim have been tracking the investigation of an illegal steroid distribution network that has implicated pro athletes for Sports Illustrated
The reporters said it’s already become clear that a number of high-profile athletes will be asked to explain why performance-enhancing drugs including human growth hormone and anabolic steroids were prescribed in their names and, in some cases, sent to them through a system that investigators say is illegal.
When asked specifically about Gary Matthews Jr., the reporters said they had more information.
“According to law enforcement documents we've reviewed, Matthews is not just on a customer list, as was reported Tuesday. In August 2004, he was allegedly sent Genotropin -- a brand of synthetic human growth hormone typically prescribed to children suffering from growth failure -- at an address in Mansfield, Texas. We traced the address and it is the residence of a former minor league teammate of Matthews', who told us that he is friends with Matthews.”
It is impossible to know whether or not Matthews ever actually took the drugs, but it's hard to envision a reason someone in the Major Leagues would take such a risk if it weren't to benefit himself.
It appears highly unlikely that Major League Baseball will take any action against Matthews Jr. Although Jason Grimsley was given a 50-game suspension in 2006 without ever failing a test after 2003’s anonymous testing, Matthews involvement with human growth hormone was from 2004, the year before baseball added it to its banned list.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
A large Albany-based grand jury investigation into the sale of steroids and human growth hormone (hGH) over the internet culminated today in the raid of a Florida pharmacy and the indictment of two owners of a pharmacy in Alabama. Investigators said over twenty-four people would be arrested in the coming days including six doctors and three pharmacists.
Two separate Signature Pharmacy locations, both in Orlando, Florida, were raided. Jason Grimsley reportedly was a customer. Four people, the two owners of Signature, Pharmacists and husband and wife, Stan and Naomi Loomis, Stan’s brother Kenneth Michael Loomis (also a pharmacist) and marketing director, Kirk Calvert, were arrested. Albany District Attorney, David Soares' office identified Signature as a "producer" of the illegally distributed drugs.
In Mobile, Alabama, two owners of Applied Pharmacy Services have been indicted by the Albany County Grand Jury. Their clientele reportedly includes Los Angeles Angels centerfielder, Gary Matthews Jr., and Jose Canseco, an admitted steroid user, among others.
Three people the District Attorney’s Office described as "distributors" were also arrested. All three worked for Cellular Nucleonic Advantage, a company based in Sugarland, Texas.
The Albany Times Union has learned that the investigation has been going for a year, and has been kept quiet until now as to not compromise the investigation.
According to the Times Union, investigators reportedly
“uncovered evidence that testosterone and other performance-enhancing drugs may have been fraudulently prescribed over the Internet to current and former Major League Baseball players, National Football League players, college athletes, high school coaches, a former Mr. Olympia champion and another leading contender in the bodybuilding competition.”
"More than two dozen doctors, pharmacists and business owners have been, or will be, arrested in the coming days in Alabama, Texas, Florida and New York on sealed indictments charging them with various felonies for unlawfully distributing steroids and other controlled substances, records show.”
A law enforcement source involved in that investigation told the Times Union that authorities have not identified what types of products allegedly were ordered by Matthews or Canseco. Matthews reportedly was informed that his name would appear in the story before his spring training game Tuesday.
Los Angeles Angels Vice President of Communications, Tim Mead said manager Mike Scioscia told Matthews about the report, and that general manager Bill Stoneman and Mead spoke to Matthews.
We strongly recommended that Gary inform his agent and make sure he's aware as well. There's nothing much to say. A name is mentioned. It's sketchy at best... Certainly as we acquire more information, we'll look into it.''
Matthews Jr. addressed the issue from spring training.
"I do expect it to resolve itself here in the near future. ... Until we get more information, I just can't comment on it."
Jason Grimsley, the former journeyman pitcher who left baseball last year after mail-order human growth hormone was seized at his Scottsdale home by federal agents from San Francisco. Grimsley has not been charged with any crimes, but last year he described widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball to federal agents.
In an affidavit by federal agent, Jeff Novitzky, who questioned Grimsley, the agent said Grimsley claimed another player had advised Grimsley on how to obtain human growth hormone from a “wellness center'' in Florida. Former Baltimore Orioles first baseman, David Segui, later admitted to being that player. Segui went on ESPN and said his human growth hormone use was ‘legal’ as it was prescribed by a doctor.
The Albany district attorney’s office reportedly pursued the case because New York State has some of the strictest prescription drug laws in the country, and because Signature Pharmacy did $10 million in business in New York.
Soares reportedly said the investigation began after an Albany doctor was arrested for allegedly trafficking in narcotics online.
Some more Non-Baseball Details from the Internet Steroid and hGH Bust*In New York, investigators have interviewed the host of a popular cable television program, sources said.
*Evander Holyfield’s name was also connected to Applied Pharmacy Services. A source involved in that investigation said authorities have not identified what types of products allegedly ordered by Holyfield, whom they said used the name “Evan Fields” when placing orders.
*Last month, a New York investigator who has been tracking suspicious purchases from Signature interviewed Richard A. Rydze, a top physician for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers about why he allegedly used a personal credit card to purchase roughly $150,000 in testosterone and human growth hormone in 2006. Rydze, who won a silver medal in platform diving in the 1972 Olympics, told the investigator that the drugs were for his private patients. Rydze is an internist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a consulting physician for the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration.
*According to Sports Illustrated, Carl Metzger, narcotics commander for Orlando's Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation said the search revealed a "raid card" at numerous Signature Pharmacy employees' desks with contact information for lawyers. The top of the documents identified it as a Food and Drug Administration/Drug Enforcement Agency telephone list, but only lawyers were on the card.
"We found that to be somewhat interesting. Why would you need to have something entitled a phone call list for the DEA and FDA with lawyers' names if you have nothing to hide?"
Monday, November 06, 2006
The next or perhaps more accurately, the newest generation of performance-enhancing drugs in sport is insulin-like growth factor-1 or IGF-1. The first synthetic version of IGF-1 approved for sale in the United States was Increlex.
To understand Increlex one needs to look at human growth hormone. Human growth hormone is a favorite among athletes and celebrities for its healing powers and anti-aging capabilities. In the liver, hGH converts to insulin-like growth factor-1 promoting growth.
While recombinant human growth hormone been around since the 1980s, synthesized IGF-1 wasn’t approved for use until 2005. In August, 2005, the FDA approved Tercica's IGF-1 drug, Increlex, as replacement therapy for severe primary IGF-1 deficiency.
From the Increlex website:
"For many years, natural growth hormone was the only treatment available for children with short stature. In the 1980s, manmade—or “recombinant”—growth hormone was introduced, but that still did not provide a potential answer for children with severe Primary IGFD since their bodies already produced enough growth hormone. Fortunately, researchers began thinking more about the importance of IGF-1 in the growth process and about new ways to replace this important hormone when it’s missing. The natural outgrowth was manmade IGF-1."
Journalists and scientists have speculated for some time that baseball players and other athletes were likely already using IGF-1. The benefits are even greater than hGH and the side-effects are thought to be less severe (though testing is limited).
In 2002, Lee Sweeney, Professor and Chairman of Physiology at the University of Pennsylvania, and a recognized expert on the subject of the genetic enhancement of skeletal muscle, spoke to CNN with regard to the muscle building and regenerating properties of IGF-1 and touched on athletics.
"I think athletic competition at the world level is going to change. We're going to have competitions essentially with people who have re-engineered their muscles; and all the records in speed and strength events are just going to go by the boards. It's a terrible thing, because it will make a mockery of all the competition of the past."
Much like hGH, IGF-1 has been shown to increase the rate and extent of muscle repair after injury and increase the rate of muscle growth from training. IGF-1 not only aids existing muscle tissue, but it causes an increase in the amount of muscle fibers called hyperplasia.
Hyperplasia is the Holy Grail for athletes, and occurs when muscle fibers actually split, therefore creating more muscle fibers. Hyperplasia combined with extensive training could lead to a super-human breed of athlete.
Increlex is not the only insulin-like growth factor-1 product available in the United States. In December 2005, the FDA also approved IPLEX, Insmed's IGF-1/ IGFBP-3 complex. By delivering the drug in a complex they can get the same effects as far as growth rates but with fewer side-effects.
And there are more IGF-1 drugs on the way. In the last few years, two additional companies Tercica and Insmed compiled enough clinical trial data to seek FDA approval for IGF-1 products. The more drugs available to patients who actually need them, the more easily athletes will be able to get them.
Like Human Growth Hormone, there is no reliable test, either urine or blood, for IGF-1. Performance-enhancing drugs seem to be getting more powerful, less harmful and less detectable simultaneously.