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Panthers steroid case followup (1 Viewer)


Shortt enters guilty plea in steroids case

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A doctor accused of writing illegal steroid prescriptions to football players pleaded guilty Monday to one federal conspiracy charge as part of a plea agreement.

Alternative medicine physician James Shortt, 59, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop 42 similar counts against the doctor who used to practice in West Columbia.

Prosecutors have said current and former members of the Carolina Panthers were some of Shortt's patients. After Monday's guilty plea, they would not say if he treated players from any other NFL teams.

"I wrote prescriptions for and shipped growth hormone to individuals who wished to use those for weight gain and physical enhancement. I know now that was federally wrong and illegal," Shortt said.

U.S. Attorney Reginald Lloyd said Shortt will likely be sentenced in several months. Shortt faces up to five years in prison, two years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

In court, assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday said the case against Shortt was made easier by the doctor's own records.

Along with written notes, Shortt taped his meetings with patients, giving them one copy and keeping a second copy for himself.

A conversation with former Carolina Panther Wesley Walls was played in court.

Shortt told Walls what drug testers look for and said that by using natural testosterone instead of synthetic his hormone ratio "will always come out right" and told Walls he "could probably do well with a little bit of growth hormone."

Shortt also discussed what drug testers are looking for. "It's in their best interest to level the playing field. It's not in their interest to bust" the whole team.

The doctor also told Walls he could give him a small enough dose of synthetic drug that raises testosterone that "should blow no whistles."

The patients' names were blacked out of Shortt's written notes, which said many of them had come to Shortt seeking treatment for "performance enhancement," "body building" and "anabolic steroids, bulking."

A report last spring from the CBS program 60 Minutes Wednesday identified Panthers' center Jeff Mitchell, tackle Todd Steussie and punter Todd Sauerbrun as having filled steroid prescriptions written by Shortt.

Lloyd thanked the Carolina Panthers football team for their cooperation in this case. "That should be a model for how folks proceed in these types of matters in the future," he said.

Naming no names, Holliday said the conspiracy Shortt was involved in also included at least three members from his staff, two patients who helped recruit other patients, and the pharmacist next door to Shortt's office.

Shortt, who told the judge he now lives in California, remains free on bond.

Shortt also faces a state criminal investigation in the death of a woman who died three days after receiving intravenous hydrogen peroxide to help her multiple sclerosis.

The South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners suspended Shortt's medical license in April, but his license has not been revoked.

Medical regulators in Wisconsin went ahead and revoked Shortt's license based on the South Carolina suspension.



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