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Doctor who gave HGH to pro athletes avoids jail

BUFFALO, N.Y. - A Canadian sports doctor with a high-profile client list will avoid more prison time for bringing unapproved and mislabeled drugs into the United States.

Dr. Anthony Galea of Toronto was sentenced to time served Friday in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.

The healing specialist, who has helped Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez and other big-name athletes come back from injuries, pleaded guilty to the federal charge in July.

Galea, who was sought out by the biggest names in sports, was indicted by a federal grand jury in October on charges that he smuggled human growth hormone and other substances into the United States and lied to border agents to avoid getting caught. He faces similar charges in Canada.

Most of the U.S. charges were dismissed with Galea's plea, and he agreed to cooperate with investigators and disclose the identities of his patients and their treatments.

Speaking in a courtroom full of supporters, Galea apologized to the U.S. government, his wife and his assistant for the trouble he caused them. The judge said any good that could come of sentencing him to prison would be outweighed by the good he can do his patients.

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Galea wasn't licensed to practice in the United States when he made trips across the border to treat athletes, including professional football and baseball players in several U.S. cities.

Galea was widely known for a blood-spinning injury treatment, but prosecutors said some patients received human growth hormone, which is banned by major sports.

During his plea hearing in July, prosecutors said Galea's patients included NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes and retired running back Jamal Lewis, who were not accused of any use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The New York Mets' Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran also acknowledged talking to federal authorities during the investigation, but said they did not receive HGH. Woods acknowledged being treated by Galea but also said he hadn't received performance enhancers.

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

Galea 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.

It wasn't immediately known how much time Galea has already spent in custody. A year of supervised release included in the sentence won't be enforced because he lives in Canada.