Matthews ordered drug shipment
Angels outfielder sent HGH from busted pharmacy
Posted: Wednesday February 28, 2007 5:04PM; Updated: Monday March 12, 2007 5:54PM
Sports Illustrated reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim are tracking the investigation of an illegal steroid distribution network that has implicated pro athletes. On Tuesday they accompanied agents on a coordinated raid of an Orlando compound pharmacy and a Jupiter, Fla., "anti-aging" clinic that investigators allege conspired to fraudulently prescribe steroids, human growth hormone and other performance enhancing drugs over the Internet.
SI.com: Tell us what you've uncovered?
Llosa/Wertheim: Again, it could be weeks before the client lists from Tuesday's raid -- and others before it -- have been combed through. Already it's become clear that a number of high-profile athletes will be asked to explain why drugs associated with performance enhancement were prescribed in their names and, in some cases, sent to them through a system that investigators assert is fraudulent.
SI.com: Gary Matthews, Jr., who had a career year in 2006 and signed a $50 million deal with the Angels this offseason, has already been linked to a customer list of a raided pharmacy. Do you have more information on him?
Llosa/Wertheim: Yes. 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.
SI.com: How did Matthews get a prescription?
Llosa/Wertheim: This, allegedly, goes to the root of what has prompted this massive investigation. According to the document we've reviewed, Matthews received the prescription through a doctor at Health Watch, a now-defunct anti-aging clinic in south Florida. According to the report, the drugs came from Applied Pharmacy services, a compound pharmacy in Mobile, Ala., which was raided last fall by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). This shadowy nexis between anti-aging centers and compound pharmacies is at the heart of this multi-agency investigation.
SI.com: Is Matthews likely to face some sort of discipline?
Llosa/Wertheim: While Major League Baseball is surely interested, by no means is this a smoking gun. According to MLB spokesman Pat Courtney, HGH was not on the banned substance list in 2004, as the 2002 collective bargaining agreement was still in place. HGH was added as a banned substance for the 2005 season, Courtney says. Remember, too, that these are only allegations right now and that the document is only alleging that a shipment of growth hormone was sent in Matthews' name. Whether or not he actually took the drug is not part of this investigation.
SI.com: Has Matthews responded to these allegations?
Llosa/Wertheim: We spoke earlier Wednesday morning with Scott Leventhal, his agent: "No comment," he told us.