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December 15, 2009

Accused doctor details Tiger Woods knee rehab

Posted at 10:26 AM by Alan Bastable | Categories: Tiger Woods

If Tiger Woods has been waiting for another big story to break, something to ease the intensive coverage of his infidelities, this isn’t what he had in mind. The New York Times and other media outlets are reporting that Dr. Anthony Galea, who treated Woods during his recovery from knee surgery, is under criminal investigation for allegedly providing athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.

Galea told the Times that IMG introduced Woods to Galea after Woods's representatives were “alarmed at the slow pace of Mr. Woods’s rehabilitation after knee surgery in June 2008.”

Dr. Galea said he treated Mr. Woods in his [Windermere, Fla.] home four or five times [during February and March 2009] with a borrowed centrifuge from an Orlando doctor. Each time, he said he drew blood from Woods, spun it to increase the platelets’ count and then injected a small amount directly into Mr. Woods’s left knee.

Two days after the first treatment, Woods texted him, Dr. Galea said: “He said he couldn’t believe how good he feels. He’d joke and say, ‘I can jump up on the kitchen table,’ and I said, ‘Please don’t.’ ”

Dr. Galea said that Mr. Woods stayed in touch, texting him after the British Open in July [where Woods missed the cut] that his left knee had begun bothering him again. Dr. Galea said he flew to Orlando in early August and gave Mr. Woods P.R.P. therapy [platelet rich plasma] for a final time.

In October, he said he heard again from Mr. Woods that his knee was still bothering him, “but all this stuff started with the investigation, and I couldn’t go see him.”

When asked for comment about Mr. Woods’s involvement with Dr. Galea, Mark Steinberg, of I.M.G., responded in an e-mail message: “I would really ask that you guys don’t write this? If Tiger is NOT implicated, and won’t be, let’s please give the kid a break.”

The platelet therapy, or blood spinning, performed on Woods’s knee has become increasingly popular among injured athletes in need of a speedy recovery. According to the Times:

Platelet-rich plasma is created by putting a small amount of the patient’s blood in a centrifuge, which separates the red blood cells from the platelets that release proteins and other particles involved in the body’s healing process. No more than a teaspoon of the substance is injected into the damaged area. In some cases, the high concentration of platelets — from 3 to 10 times that of normal blood — catalyzes the growth of new soft-tissue or bone cells.

Gary Wadler, a Long Island anti-doping expert and World Anti-Doping Agency consultant, told another New York paper, The Daily News, that blood spinning is a "trendy but controversial procedure."

WADA modified its doping code for 2010 to define acceptable and banned uses of blood spinning; platelet-rich blood can be injected into joints and under the skin to help athletes recover from injuries. The new code, implemented on the eve of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, bans intra muscular injections because they may promote muscle growth.

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