SII Focus 28 December 2015

Analysis: Network allegedly supplied drugs to top US athletes

A network of medical professionals is alleged to have supplied drugs to leading US athletes, according to a documentary (featured below) aired by Al Jazeera on Boxing Day. In ‘The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers’, British hurdler Liam Collins bought a box of drugs from two pharmacists and a naturopath doctor using a cover story that at the age of 37 and with his times improving, he wanted to make an impact on the world stage towards the end of his career. Al Jazeera has the box of drugs – understood to include steroids Delta-2, GRF 1-29 and other substances – under lock and key as evidence.

The medical professionals

“I’m not going to lie”, Vancouver-based pharmacist Chad Robertson told Al Jazeera. “Have I doped people? Oh yeah. And no one’s got caught, because the system’s so easy to beat. And it still is – that’s the sad fact. I can take a guy with average genetics and I can make him a world champion. I can. With drugs? Absolutely.”

Robertson arranged a doping programme for Collins involving ‘“oxidative free radicals like NOS and ROS”, as well as Carbon 60, a supplement available online which he alleged was used “off the record” by the US Military. “If your GH [growth hormone] is low, I’ll put you on the Ipamorelin [growth hormone steroid] and GRF 1-29 [injectable peptide hormone to increase GH production]”.

Al Jazeera reported that Robertson was keen to supply Collins because he wanted to expand his ProMed Sport business to athletes in the UK. ProMed’s internet site, which was taken offline after the documentary, offers ‘Integrated medical and performance management solutions’. It features testimonials from a number of athletes named in the documentary as having been supplied with performance-enhancing drugs, such as Ryan Howard.

Al Jazeera said that Robertson’s partner in the ProMed venture was Brandon Spletzer, a Vancouver-based naturopathic doctor who works for the Sage Clinic, which lists ‘hormonal imbalances, fatigue and gastrointestinal health’ as specialities on his profile page, which has since been taken down. One of the revelations in the documentary was that it is illegal to prescribe growth hormone in the US unless for specific medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disease. It was planned that the drugs would be ordered over the internet from a supplier known as Thomas Mann.

“Put it this way – I’m not really writing anything down”, Spletzer told Collins when questioned about medical records. “If you really want to go black ops, so to speak, I can just document everything – not in this chart, but on my own chart. If somebody ever comes sniffing for it, it’s very easy to just delete and say no, this is the real chart. There’s the decoy if, say, WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency] come sniffing around.”

Robertson then mentions Charlie Sly, an Austin-based pharmacist as a “genius” in outwitting WADA. Sly mentions supplying a number of National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) players with performance-enhancing drugs, particularly Delta-2, a compound made by Androgenetx. The company’s website, blog and Facebook page have been taken down, but included products such as ‘PhuckFat’.

Sly, who was filmed in a number of locations over an investigation lasting eight months, has since said that he made everything up. “Liam [Collins] is a reputed fraudster who has been banned in his native United Kingdom from running any investment businesses”, says Collins in a video (see below). “The statements made on any recordings that Al Jazeera plans to air are absolutely false. To be clear: I am recanting any such statements and there is no truth to any statement of mine that Al Jazeera plans to air.”

Athlete names

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning; former New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller; former boxer Mike Tyson; Green Bay Packers linebackers Mike Neal, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers; Chicago Cubs catcher Taylor Teagarden; Philadelphia Phillies baseman Ryan Howard; Washington Nationals baseman Ryan Zimmerman; and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison were named by the medical professionals as US athletes they had supplied with performance-enhancing drugs.

Charlie Sly alleged supplying Manning whilst working at the Guyer Institute in 2011. “Him and his wife would come in after hours and get IVs and s**t”, he told Collins. “All the time we would be sending Ashley Manning drugs. Like growth hormone. All the time. Everywhere, Florida… It would never be under Peyton’s name, it would always be under her name.”

Denver Broncos dismissed the allegations as “false claims” in a 27 December statement. “I have no reason to believe that these allegations are based in fact or have any truth”, read a statement from Dr. Dale Guyer of the Guyer Institute (see below). “In fact, I can say with absolute certainty they are not…I would emphasise that Mr. Sly was never an employee of the Guyer Institute and his brief three-month internship occurred in 2013, during which time Peyton was not even being treated or present in the office.”

However, public records show that Sly was a pharmacist licensed to practice in Indiana from 27 April 2010 until 1 May 2013, and his address was in Brownsburg, not far away from the Guyer Institute’s central Indianapolis address. The Al Jazeera reporter involved has stood by claims that Sly worked there in 2011. Sly claimed that he “knows for a fact” that Guyer supplies growth hormone to “lots of patients”, something that the documentary claimed it would be illegal for an anti-ageing clinic, such as the Guyer Institute, to do.

Dustin Keller and Mike Tyson have yet to respond to the allegations, as have Neal, Matthews and Peppers from the Green Bay Packers. However, during the documentary, Sly claimed to have received a text from Matthews asking for toradol, an anti-inflammatory drug. He also claimed to have treated Matthews with Ipamorelin and percocet, an opioid pain medication. Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman have denied the allegations through their attorney, supported by a statement from the Washington Nationals (below).

James Harrison “emphatically denied” taking performance enhancing drugs when contacted by Al Jazeera. Taylor Teagarden, however, was caught on film talking to Sly and Collins about taking Delta-2. “I used it last year”, he said. “I was scared, to be honest with you. I took it for two weeks and I had a test four weeks after my last administration of it. Nothing happened. And I was also taking peptides too. But they were all urine tests – no blood tests.” Chicago Cubs have yet to issue a statement regarding Teagarden. The Green Bay Packers have also denied the allegations made in the documentary, according to local reports.

WADA response

“Al Jazeera’s allegations are very concerning; particularly, as it relates to the NFL’s and MLB’s testing programs,” said David Howman, WADA’s Director General in a statement issued today. “As it relates to the particular allegations by Al Jazeera, WADA expects that they will be carefully investigated by the relevant authorities and that, if warranted, necessary and appropriate steps would be taken. While the matter is outside of WADA’s mandate; as always, the Agency stands ready and willing to work with authorities as appropriate.” The MLB and NFL have yet to issue an official response.

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