It’s often been said that football has eclipsed baseball as our national pastime. Well, the NFL could be passing MLB in another, less desirable category: the sports most tripped-up by steroid scandals.
In the wake of the news that last season’s defensive rookie-of-the-year, Brian Cushing of the Houston Texans, was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, comes another drug-related football bombshell: U.S. authorities have charged Anthony Galea, the controversial Canadian doctor who has treated Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez, among other professional athletes, with providing human growth hormone (HGH) and other unapproved substances to NFL players. Galea’s assistant told investigators that she was on her way to help treat player in the Washington area, who the New York Times is reporting plays for the Washington Redskins, when officials at the Canada-U.S. border found HGH in her car, kicking off the probe. According to court documents, a retired NFL player told authorities that two HGH kits were delivered to his home, while a current player received injections of Actovegin, a drug extracted from calf’s blood extract that stimulates glucose oxidation, which can improve physical performance. Another NFL player admitted he was a patient of Galea’s, but denies knowingly receiving HGH from him.
None of the football players were named in the complaint, but they probably won’t remain anonymous for long. If the steroid investigations of the last decade have taught us anything, it’s that the names, like Barry Bonds and Rodriguez, almost always leak. Football has largely received steroid pass, likely because super-sized muscles, and rage, are such a natural part of the sport. A juiced-up football player is not surprising. However, if this current scandal grows and other cheating charges prop up, both fans and the media may lose their patience. Is a backlash against the NFL, America’s Teflon sports league for so long, brewing?
Updated: 11:25 p.m: “It is regrettable that Dr. Galea, a world renowned and respected sports medicine physician, now faces these further charges,” Galea’s lawyer, Brian Greenspan, wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press.