TORONTO – Tiger Woods is in no way linked to the drug-related criminal charges brought against a Canadian sports doctor who treated the superstar golfer, the doctor’s lawyer said Friday.
Dr. Anthony Galea, 51, is facing four charges related to the unapproved drug known as Actovegin. He was charged Wednesday by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with conspiracy to import an unapproved drug, conspiracy to export a drug and smuggling goods into Canada.
“Any suggestion of any linkage to Tiger Woods is nonexistent,” Galea’s lawyer, Brian H. Greenspan, said outside a Toronto courtroom Friday. “I’m saying categorically it does not relate to anything that’s alleged before this court.”
Galea was not in court for Friday’s procedural hearing at which the prosecution handed over to the defense details about some of the evidence that led to the indictment. The judge set a date of Jan. 28 for the next hearing.
Under the Customs Act, Galea could face a maximum of five years in prison.
Galea was arrested Oct. 15 after a search warrant was executed at the Institute of Sports Medicine Health and Wellness Centre near Toronto.
Greenspan said Actovegin, which contains calf’s blood, is used worldwide by “numerous specialists in the sports field.”
“Our position is there was nothing unlawful about Dr. Galea’s use of that substance in Canada and therefore these charges are without merit,” said Greenspan.
The RCMP allege it was Galea’s “intent to treat some of his patients outside Canada with Actovegin.”
The New York Times reported earlier this week that Galea said he had never combined HGH or Actovegin with a blood-spinning technique – platelet-rich plasma therapy – that he has used to help speed post-surgery recovery for athletes, including Woods.
Galea visited Woods’ home in Florida at least four times in February and March, the newspaper reported, to provide that platelet therapy. Woods was recovering from June 2008 knee surgery.
The investigation began when the doctor’s assistant, who often drove Galea around, was stopped attempting to enter the United States from Canada.
Vials and ampules containing human growth hormone and Actovegin were found in a car driven by Mary Anne Catalano, according to the RCMP and U.S. federal court documents.
Galea’s assistant has been charged in the U.S. for having HGH and another drug while crossing the border in September.
The International Olympic Committee became concerned about Actovegin in 2000 after it appeared during that year’s Tour de France, according to Dr. Gary Wadler, who leads the committee that determines the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned-substances list.
The drug was placed on the banned list, then removed a year later because more evidence was needed as to whether it was performance-enhancing or damaging to athletes’ health, he said.