Documents: Hairston received HGH
Bogus prescriptions at heart of probe; player 'baffled'
Posted: Friday March 2, 2007 12:45PM; Updated: Monday March 12, 2007 5:57PM
Since last summer, Sports Illustrated reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim have been investigating an alleged illegal steroid distribution network that has implicated pro athletes. On Tuesday, the reporters accompanied federal and state drug enforcement 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: You attended the raid of an anti-aging clinic and we know that an Orlando pharmacy was raided simultaneously, but where do the doctors who write the prescriptions fit into this alleged distribution network?
Llosa/Wertheim: Authorities say that physicians writing bogus prescriptions are a vital component of this whole scheme. Without prescriptions, the compound pharmacies obviously would not be taking and filling orders. Already some doctors have caught the eye of investigators. A Queens, N.Y., doctor, Ana Maria Santi, is currently in an Albany County (N.Y.) jail, held without bail on charges of forgery and criminal diversion of prescription medicine, among others. Authorities say that Santi, with her medical license already suspended by the state, took the alias of Abdul Almarashi. She then allegedly signed thousands of prescriptions for internet patients from all over the country.
SI.com: Did this doctor "treat" any athletes?
Llosa/Wertheim: According to a law enforcement document we've reviewed, in May 2004, a doctor A. Almarashi of Queens prescribed Genotropin (human growth hormone) that was sent from Applied Pharmacy Services -- the compound pharmacy raided in Mobile, Ala., last fall -- to Rangers infielder Jerry Hairston, Jr.
SI.com: There's obviously more than one person with the name Jerry Hairston out there. Why do investigators believe this was sent to this particular Jerry Hairston?
Llosa/Wertheim: Investigators tell us the drugs were sent to addresses in Maryland and Arizona that trace to Jerry Hairston, Jr. Also the document we reviewed indicates that the birth date for the patient file was listed as May 29, 1976, but the prescription database indicates a DOB of May 29, 1967; Hairston Jr.'s birth date, according to MLB.com, is May 29, 1976. The document indicates investigators' belief that the last two numbers of the birth year as noted in the prescription database were inverted.
It's a point worth stressing, though. To repeat: no one is alleging the use of performance-enhancing drugs. This investigation is about a distribution pipeline. With respect to the athlete-clients, the allegation is that drugs were sent to them through a DEA-raided compound pharmacy. In theory, anyone could go to one of these anti-aging Web sites, register falsely under the name of a prominent athlete, and get a prescription for a banned substance in that athlete's name -- that's how shadowy some of the anti-aging clinics and prescribing doctors appear to be.
Investigators, of course, are aware of this and are relying on more than simply a name when they allege someone is a customer. From the documents we've reviewed and information we've been told, there has, in each case, been some form of additional corroborating material, such as matching mailing addresses, credit cards numbers and/or phone numbers.
SI.com: What is Hairston Jr.'s response to this?
Llosa/Wertheim: He could not have been more forceful in categorically denying any knowledge or involvement. Hairston was very accessible. We spoke with him several times on Thursday and he professed to be "baffled" and "disappointed" by the entire line of inquiry. "It's disturbing ... I have no idea what this is about. I'm really in the dark," he said. "Not one time have I taken steroids or anything like that. I would never do anything like that to jeopardize my career or my family's name. ... I know I'm going to be OK because I know what I've done and haven't done. ... I would never do anything to discredit the game. The game has been good not only to myself but my entire family." (Hairston is a third-generation major leaguer.)
SI.com: Why do investigators suspect some doctors are simply rubber-stamping prescriptions without thoroughly examining patients?
Llosa/Wertheim: We learned that when investigators were monitoring Signature Pharmacy in Orlando in preparation for Tuesday's raid, they found records of one doctor who had allegedly signed off on more than 3,000 prescriptions in a 60-day window. That's more than 50 prescriptions a day on average.
In fact, an investigator with New York state's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement told us that he went online to two anti-aging sites and posed as a doctor, making clear his willingness to sign bogus scripts. The facilities offered him $50 per prescription, he says, and promised him a minimum of $3,000 a week in business. Of course, little did the anti-aging clinic realize that it was faxing client records to a "doctor" at an Albany County (N.Y.) District Attorney office.