Saturday, December 17, 2011


BUFFALO, New York State — A Canadian sports doctor whose stable of superstar athletes included golfer Tiger Woods has avoided a prison sentence for bringing unapproved and mislabeled drugs into the United States for house calls.
Dr. Anthony Galea of Toronto was sentenced on Friday to time serve in U.S. District Court in Buffalo. The sentence amounted to one day, that of Galea’s arrest.
The healing specialist, who has helped Woods and other big-name athletes come back from injuries, pleaded guilty to the federal charge in July. Prosecutors have not publicly identified the athletes. Woods, the former World No. 1 who has struggled to regain his form after four surgeries to his left leg, acknowledged having been treated by Galea but has denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs.
In June 2010, Woods met with authorities who were investigating Galea. Woods said he co-operated with them and answered all of their questions.
Galea, 52, apologised to the United States, his family, the FBI and Homeland Security during the sentencing hearing in which he and his lawyers said his zeal to help injured athletes had made him careless about the rules.
Galea wasn’t licensed to practise in the United States when he made more than 150 trips across the border to treat professional football and baseball players in 13 U.S. cities.
Galea was widely known for a blood-spinning injury treatment, but prosecutors said some patients received human growth hormone, which is banned by the US PGA Tour and other major sports.
“Because of my overzealousness in trying to heal injuries I’ve caused a lot of pain to the ones I love,” Galea told U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara, his voice breaking.
The judge said he was moved by more than 120 letters of support from peers and patients, some of whom described being treated by Galea at no charge and others who credited him with healing injuries that other doctors could not. Arcara compared him to the fictional “Marcus Welby,” the kindly and unorthodox doctor from the 1970s television show.
“It’s mind boggling to me that someone with this gift wouldn’t take extra steps to ensure he’s in compliance with the laws of this country,” the judge said.
He said Galea had only himself to blame for his legal troubles.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Campana had sought a prison term within the sentencing range of eight to 14 months, saying Galea had engaged in “a pattern of deception” over two years and put athletes at risk of being in violation of rules.
Galea declined to talk to reporters after being sentenced. Arcara also imposed a year of supervised release but said Galea would not be supervised during the period because he lives in Canada. During that year, however, he cannot enter the United States without the government’s permission. His plea agreement also required him to forfeit $275,000.
Galea faces similar charges in Canada, but his lawyers expect those will be resolved without prison time as well.
Galea’s guilty plea July 6 to a count of bringing in misbranded drugs — those not approved or not properly labeled — eliminated the possibility that the names of professional athletes he treated would be revealed. Galea was required to cooperate with federal authorities looking into his practice.
His attorneys, Mark Mahoney and Brian Greenspan, declined to say after the sentencing Friday what that cooperation involved.
“Whatever was said was consistent with his requirement as a physician to protect his patients,” Greenspan said.



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