Richard Rydze, a former team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for liberally and illegally prescribing anabolic steroids, human growth hormone (hGH) and prescription opioid pain pills. Rydze was convicted of 180 counts including conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, hGH and oxycodone (Oxycontin).
“Rydze violated his legal, professional and ethical obligations,” according to U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio. “He flooded Pennsylvania with dangerous painkillers and prescribed steroids to enrich himself.”
“Greed and power often drives criminal activity as evidenced by this indictment, where a physician decided to abuse his medical privileges in order to line his pockets,” said Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland Office. “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue doctors who illegally divert prescription medications.”
Of course, the Pittsburgh Steelers and its players have nothing to worry about. It has been business as usual for the Steelers and the National Football League (NFL). The Steelers organization successfully distanced themselves from Rydze and avoided being tarnished by his rapid fall from grace.
The Steelers organization public relations team took quick action and immediately fired Rydze back in June 2007. The termination was done in response to the slightest hint of a brewing scandal. Rydze’s dismissal occurred shortly after leaked news reports revealed that Rydze used his personal credit card to purchase $150,000 worth of steroids and hGH from Signature Compounding Pharmacy in Florida while he was a team physician.
Furthermore, federal prosecutors conveniently decided to say that Rydze’s criminal wrongdoing involving PEDs didn’t start until 3 months following his termination as the long-time Steeler team doctor. The Steelers fired Rydze in June 2007. The feds charged Rydze in a criminal indictment beginning in September 2007. This three-month window gave the Steelers plausible deniability concerning Rydze predilection to liberally prescribe PEDs. For the record, Rydze has always denied prescribing steroids to any NFL players.
Instead of investigating the possibility that Rydze prescribed steroids to NFL football player,s federal prosecutors prosecuted Rydze for prescribing steroids to recreational athletes, everyday gymrats and middle-aged men seeking hormone replacement. Rydze worked with HSE Anti-Aging & Wellness Center (HSE) to target this market.
Rydze organized “steroid clinics” ever other Saturday morning on behalf of HSE. Men who attended those clinics would be encouraged to schedule office visits with Rydze for $75 per visit. Rydze would falsely diagnose the patients with conditions such as hypogonadism and/or pituitary deficiency and give them prescriptions for various steroids such as testosterone enanthate, testosterone cypionate, nandrolone decanoate (Deca Durabolin), stanozolol (Winstrol) and oxandrolone (Anavar).
Rydze profited when clients paid him fees for office visits. He also profited when he received a commission from the compounding pharmacy ANEWrx for each and every drug he prescribed. Rydze told patients to use ANEWrx in order to fulfill their prescriptions.
U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti sentenced Rydze to 10 years imprisonment, $32,390 restitution and $18,300 special assessment.