The Washington Redskins are seemingly always involved in some sort of drama. But the latest news to come down the Beltway has a more insidious tone to it, and it could affect the team's 2010 season.
According to the Washington Post, receiver Santana Moss(notes) was one of several athletes receiving treatment from Dr. Anthony Galea, a Canadian physician with no authority to practice medicine in the United States. First reported by Dan Herbeck of the Buffalo News, the Moss story came out through a criminal complaint filed in Buffalo on Tuesday, accusing Galea of drug smuggling, conspiracy, lying to federal agents, unlawful distribution of human growth hormone and introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce. A court document then revealed that Galea made several trips to the U.S., all paid for by his clients, for specific meetings with pro athletes.
Among those athletes, according to Galea attorney Mark J. Mahoney, were Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Woods, each of whom has either had to accept or refute recent allegations of PED use. But Mahoney's stance was that there was no performance enhancement involved. "Officials of the NFL and other sports organizations can sleep soundly tonight, because there is nothing he did with these athletes to help them with performance enhancement," Mahoney told the Buffalo News on Wednesday. "[Galea] strictly provided treatment for injuries. If any athlete got [human growth hormone], it was injected directly into injured tissue, in very small amounts, for purposes of healing."
HGH in small amounts? Hmmm. Sounds like the old "getting a little bit pregnant" argument. In any case, Moss' name first came up when Galea assistant Mary Anne Catalano, who was arrested in Buffalo last September 14, told police that she was on her way to Washington to treat a professional athlete. Police found syringes, banned drugs, and other medical equipment in her vehicle, according to the Buffalo News report. A source has now connected Moss with the trip for the Post report. When asked about the allegations after the Redskins' Wednesday OTAs, Moss said that "I'll talk about football. I don't know about nothing else. I ain't got nothing to do with nothing that ain't about me."
Head coach Mike Shanahan offered a more grammatically correct version of the same answer. "A doctor comes to town and has supposedly seen a player," Shanahan said. "The NFL's on top of all those things, and if there's any validity to it, they will contact me and contact our organization, which they have not done."
In the wake of the four-game suspension handed down to Texans linebacker Brian Cushing(notes), this is a real black eye for the NFL. At a time when overwhelming public perception holds that the league, the teams and the players simply don't care about who's juicing and who isn't, it seems that these questions, and names named, arrive with greater frequency. We have no actual verification of Moss' use of PEDs, and it's possible that the player is innocent of all charges. But the nature of the charges against Galea, and the number of players he's allegedly helped, could make this far more complex than the Cushing case. As U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said, "At this juncture, any of the persons who are alleged to have used these substances are considered witnesses, and not targets, of this investigation."
You don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows in this case. The law wants the players to testify to avoid criminal charges, and it will be up to the governing bodies of the sports those players play to hand out discipline. How many NFL players will be required to tap on the microphone, and what tales will they tell?