Steelers drop longtime MD
Internist was linked to purchase of $150,000 in steroids, HGH
Friday, June 15, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Steelers have removed Dr. Richard Rydze from their medical staff roster, an apparent reaction to the revelation in March that he had purchased $150,000 in testosterone and human growth hormone with his own credit card.
Rydze was interviewed by investigators from Albany County, N.Y., in February, but never accused by them of any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, his employers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center began their own investigation after his name surfaced in the New York case.
More than three months later, UPMC officials are not ready to comment about their investigation, said Susan Manko of the hospital's news bureau.
Steelers President Art Rooney II declined comment yesterday on the team's dropping Dr. Rydze, an internist, after 21 years of working mostly on game days for them. Previously, Rooney said, "There is no evidence that Dr. Rydze prescribed or provided any hormone treatments to any of our players. Dr. Rydze has assured me that this has never happened and will never happen."
Nevertheless, having a doctor on their staff connected to steroids purchases apparently was not something the Steelers believed they could tolerate.
The NFL bans the use of any kind of steroids or human growth hormone. Dr. Rydze previously told Sports Illustrated he uses the HGH to treat older patients. He is medical director of the Little Sisters of the Poor Nursing Facility, according to his bio on a UPMC Web site.
Rydze's name surfaced during an investigation by an Albany, N.Y., prosecutor into an illicit steroids distribution network that led authorities to raid two facilities in Orlando, Fla., and arrest four company officials in February.
According to the Times-Union of Albany, N.Y., a New York investigator flew to Pittsburgh to interview Rydze about why he used his credit card to purchase about $150,000 in testosterone and human growth hormone in 2006.
Although never a target, Rydze told the New York Times that investigators had urged him to stop using a Florida pharmacy under their scrutiny and that he complied. UPMC officials also wanted some answers.
Dr. Rydze, a 1972 Olympics silver medalist in platform diving who is enshrined in the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, could not be reached for comment.