Fri, Sep 23, 2005 - Page 22 News List

Doctor indicted over claims of illegal drug prescriptions

AP , COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA

A doctor who was accused in a television report of writing illegal steroid prescriptions for three former Carolina Panthers players has been indicted on government charges.

James Shortt was charged with 29 counts of distributing steroids and human growth hormones as well as a conspiracy charge, US Attorney Johnny Gasser said on Wednesday. The indictment did not specify who received the drugs.

But a person familiar with the indictment said they were current and former members of the Carolina Panthers, bodybuilders and at least one police officer. The source spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, and did not name players.

A CBS News report in March identified center Jeff Mitchell, tackle Todd Steussie and punter Todd Sauerbrun as having filled steroid prescriptions written by Shortt. Several other former Panthers have also been named as Shortt's patients in subsequent media reports.

The NFL is nearing the conclusion of an investigation it began after that report, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said late last month.

Of the players identified in the initial CBS report, only Mitchell, the Panthers' starting center, remains with the team. Steussie is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sauerbrun was traded to the Denver Broncos.

Shortt, 58, also faces a state investigation in the death of a woman given intravenous hydrogen peroxide to treat her multiple sclerosis.

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