In Defense of Tiger Woods: I Must Confess I Saw Dr. Anthony Galea
by: Weldon Johnson, LetsRun.com
December 15, 2009
I have something to confess. I met with Dr. Anthony Galea in 2007. The same Anthony Galea who was stopped at the US/Canadian border with suspicious drugs (editor's note: we're not sure if Galea was in the car when his assistant was stopped). So the assumption seems to be that I, along with Tiger Woods, am a drug cheat.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. We at LetsRun.com have been some of the most outspoken anti-dopers from the founding of this site in 2000.
I went to Canada in 2007 to see the best doctors/physiotherapists I could find. I have no idea whether Tiger Woods has used performance enhancing drugs just as I don't know whether anyone besides myself has ever used them. But because Tiger saw Dr. Galea, one of the top doctors in the world, before Galea was linked to any suspicious activities, does not mean Tiger should be crucified.
Yet, there is the New York Times, publishing a story it never usually would be interested in on THE FRONT PAGE, all because of a link to Tiger Woods.
My Path to Dr. Galea
In late 2006, after three-plus years of injuries I had not yet given up on competing competitively and making the Olympics. I had seen numerous medical professionals over the last few years, but was determined to give it another shot.
I'm not sure if I posted on LetsRun.com this time around or just put the word out that I was looking for the best physiotherapist to see. I was told to go see Dr. Mark Lindsay in Toronto by people I trusted. I couldn't find any of these emails from 2006 on this, but below is one I found from 2004 when I put out a call on LetsRun.com for the best person to see who did Active Release Technique (a form of deep tissue physical therapy):
i'd recommend you see Mark Lindsay in toronto. he is probably the best around. he has worked with elites from all sports in canada ranging from bobsled to downhill skiing. he also worked specifically with donovan baily (sic) in the lead up to atlanta. he knows the technique and will you over good. he is also a certified chiropractor and also dabbles in accupunture (sic) too. what i always liked about him was that unlike other physios who just work on the symptom, he finds the cause.
I have met two people who I consider geniuses when it comes to running: Dan Pfaff (now one of the main coaches in Great Britain, formerly Donovan Bailey's coach when he won the Olympic 100m title, and a coach at the University of Texas when I was there in 1997) and my own coach John Kellogg. Pfaff understood the body better than any coach I'd ever met, and I remember him telling an amazing story of how he and Lindsay worked around the clock to miraculously heal Donovan Bailey's pulled groin three weeks before he won the 100m at the 1996 Olympics. I thought Pfaff was a genius, but he had said this guy in Toronto was the real genius. Now nearly 10 years later I was being told by others this was Lindsay and to go see him.
So I got Lindsay's number and called him. I don't remember the details but old emails have helped refresh my memory. We set up an appointment. He also from the get-go wanted me to have an appointment with Dr. Galea. There was concern I could have a broken bone or stress fracture in my foot and Lindsay highly recommend Galea.
All that I really remember is that Lindsay was super accommodating to my schedule and tailored things around my schedule since I was driving from Ithaca, NY. I was no Tiger Woods but he really wanted to treat and figure out what was wrong with me. I remember him telling me that something was really wrong with my foot, not because I said it hurt, but because he said I had quit walking properly and my muscles no longer worked properly.
I saw Dr. Galea at some point on my trip to Canada. I don't remember if it was before, in the middle, or after seeing Lindsay. I do remember I got a bone scan because I set off the radioactive meter at the border on my way back over the border (it seriously can detect trace amounts of radiation). With the help of emails from that time, I have been able to piece together memories of my visit to Dr. Galea's.
After an initial consultation, he took out an unmarked syringe and said he wanted to inject me with some vitamins. I said sure, not a problem, and he injected me and that was that. No big deal.
Just kidding. This entire previous paragraph up was a joke. There were no unmarked syringes or injections with "Vitamins."
I do remember him hooking me up to a cool machine that tried to measure the order my muscles were firing on my hips. The machine showed everything was screwed up and in the wrong order. He gave me a set of drills to try and get everything working again. I think he suggested I get an MRI on my foot, but that was it. No magic cure, no magic injections, no suggestion that I dope.
(I had the MRI in the States on my foot and was found to have a navicular stress fracture. After 2 months on crutches it was still not cured. Then a new course of treatment and 4 months of physical therapy, and then another MRI showing the stress fracture was gone. Only then did an injection, yes injection, via ultrasound by Dr. John Kennedy at the Hospital for Special Surgery solve my problems more than a year later).
All in all, the New York Times article makes me think a bit more fondly of my injury problems. I had been a bit critical of myself for not getting things figured out more quickly, but now I think back more positively to this time period. I did the exact same thing that Tiger Woods and other star athletes do when they are injured. They try and see the best medical people in the world - people like Dr. Lindsay and Dr. Galea who understand how the entire body works and functions.
I have no idea whether Tiger Woods or any athlete in the world besides myself is doping or not. As Paula Radcliffe told me in 2002 when I was seeing her physio Gerard Hartmann in Ireland, "The only athlete you really know about is yourself." But to vilify Tiger for seeing a doctor who other athletes regarded as the best in the world and who does a treatment that is perfectly legal and approved by the anti-doping authorities is crazy.
I'm not saying Dr. Galea should not be investigated or people should not ask why he had HGH and actovegin in his car. (The article said his assistant was driving the car. If she was smuggling drugs across the border and the computers show doping, it will blow open pretty quickly. I hope the authorities then go after the athletes as well) But to vilify every athlete who has ever seen Dr. Galea or to automatically assume that Mark Lindsay is a cheat as well without even seeing the results of the investigation is way too much. Prescribing HGH is perfectly legal in Canada. Dr. Galea has said he used it himself. (It would be interesting to see if there are any quotes from Galea admitting to using it before his arrest)
If an investigation shows Dr. Galea was doping athletes, then it is fair to criticize athletes who continue to see him after this point. But if everyone who has seen this guy up to this point is deemed a cheat, then count me in the group.
As for athletes who have seen Mark Lindsay there a many top runners. It seems now, not only are athletes who have seen Galea being treated as cheats, but those who have seen Lindsay as well. Since the NY Daily News is making a big deal that Lindsay treated Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones, we might as well include more runners in the group. World Championship bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan's ex-coach, John Cook, in this letsrun.com post, said Shalane saw him. Plus any of the LetsRun.com visitors who may have seen Lindsay when he was recommended in this thread in 2005, and this one in 2007 (plus an older one from 2002 that is no longer on the web). Plus in case you haven't heard Peyton Manning and of course ARod have seen Lindsay. Let's string them all up as well.
Might as well throw sub 13:00 5k runner Matt Tegenkamp under the bus as well since he has had the perfectly legal blood spinning technique done.
Discuss this article: Wejo: A Critique of Your Story on Dr. Galea is in Order
Editor's Note: Weldon Johnson, "Wejo", is a co-founder of LetsRun.com . He has run 28:06 for 10k, paced Paula Radcliffe to her first world-record in the marathon, and represented the US in the Pan-American Games.
An earlier version of this story referred to the Dr. Anthony Galea as Dr. Michael Galea. Our apologies. The author regrets to also not making the customary Tiger Woods joke in the article. Dr. Linsday stayed at Tiger's house for weeks while working on Tiger, so a host of jokes were ready to be written.