NEWS
04/13/2012 04:20 EDT | Updated 06/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada stays charges against Tiger Woods sports doc, Anthony Galea

TORONTO - A renowned sports doctor convicted last year in the United States for importing unapproved and mislabelled drugs has seen charges against him in Canada stayed, his lawyer said Friday.

Dr. Anthony Galea, who has helped golfer Tiger Woods and other big-name athletes come back from injuries, had faced four charges: selling an unapproved drug, conspiracy to import an unapproved drug, conspiracy to export a drug, and smuggling goods into Canada.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada decided on the stay against the Canadian healing specialist but gave no reasons.

Technically, a stay means the charges could be revived within a year, but Crown lawyer Kerry Benzakein said prosecutors had "no intention of reinstating the proceedings."

Defence lawyer Brian Greenspan said he was pleased with the decision.

"They arrived at the conclusion that it was not in the public interest to prosecute Dr. Galea," Greenspan said.

"It was absolutely the right thing to do in the right circumstances."

In November, the Toronto doctor was sentenced to time served in U.S. District Court in Buffalo after pleading guilty to the U.S. charges in July.

Greenspan said Galea had already "suffered consequences" from the American conviction and that likely played a role in the Canadian decision to put a hold on the Canadian charges.

In addition, Greenspan said, the alleged breaches would have been difficult to establish, were minor in nature, and would only have resulted in small fines had there been a conviction.

"Are we going to prosecute one of Canada's most accomplished and renowned sports physicians, who is a person of honesty, integrity and a reputation that makes him a world expert in his field?"

At his Buffalo sentencing, Galea apologized before a courtroom full of supporters to the U.S. government, his wife and his assistant for the trouble he had caused.

The former team doctor for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts was widely known for a blood-spinning injury treatment, but prosecutors said some patients received human growth hormone, which is banned by major sports.

Galea was not licensed to practise in the United States when he made trips across the border to treat athletes, including professional football and baseball players in several American cities.

Athletes often sought him out for platelet-rich plasma therapy, a treatment used to speed healing that involves extracting blood from patients and re-injecting just the plasma.

He became the focus of Canadian and U.S. authorities' attention in September 2009, when his assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was stopped at the border in Buffalo with a small quantity of human growth hormone, Actovegin and vials of foreign homeopathic drugs.

Greenspan said he publicized the stay, which was granted earlier in April, because it was time to "clear the air."

"It's time for the public to be aware that Dr. Galea no longer faces any criminal charges in Canada."