Sports Outside the Beltway

Rick Ankiel Used HGH

Rick Ankiel has been the feel-good story of the summer. Now, it looks like he’s just another cheater.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel, who punctuated a storybook comeback from pitching travails by homering twice with 7 RBIs Thursday, joined the list of athletes linked to a Florida-based steroids investigation.

The New York Daily News reported Friday that Ankiel received a 12-month supply of human growth hormone in 2004 from a Florida pharmacy that was part of a national illegal prescription drug-distribution operation, citing records its reporters saw. That Orlando outfit, Signature Pharmacy, has been implicated in a steroids investigation run by Albany County (N.Y.) District Attorney P. David Soares, which has resulted in 22 indictments and several Florida clinic raids.

Sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney on Friday that Major League Baseball has formally requested a meeting with Ankiel.

Hours after the report was made public, Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site that steroids were shipped to the address of Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Troy Glaus in 2003 and 2004.
“We will certainly look into this with both players,” MLB spokesman Rich Levin said Friday.

Ankiel’s HGH prescriptions, including Saizen and Genotropin, were signed by Florida physician William Gogan, who provided them through a Palm Beach Gardens clinic called The Health and Rejuvenation Center, or THARC, the Daily News reported. The drugs were shipped to the 28-year-old Ankiel at the clinic’s address, the paper said. The pitcher-turned-outfielder lives close by in Jupiter.

Another great sports story ruined.

UPDATE (Sept. 7):
Ankiel admits using HGH but says it was legit:

Rick Ankiel says any drugs he received in 2004 were prescribed by a licensed physician to help him recover from reconstructive elbow surgery.

Ankiel, whose comeback is one of the great stories of this season, initially acknowledged human growth hormone was among those medications during a brief session with reporters Friday, then refused to list his various prescriptions.

“I’m not going to go into the list of what my doctors have prescribed for me,” the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder said when asked specifically whether he had taken HGH as part of his recovery. “I’ve been through a lot emotionally and physically. There are doctor and patient privileges, and I hope you guys respect those privileges.”

The privilege merely means the doctor has to respect the patient’s confidentiality, not that the patient has the right to keep it a secret. Given the sensitivity of performance enhancing drugs, one would think Ankiel would have come clean with MLB officials from the beginning and gotten their input into how this would fit in with League policies. I have no problem with leagues granting waivers for legitimate medical use of these drugs; indeed, they probably should do so. But this sort of thing needs to be out in the open and carefully monitored.

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