Former Steelers physician indicted on 185 counts of conspiracy to distribute HGH, steroids, painkillers

Justin K. Aller

Dr. Richard Ryzde was on the Steelers medical staff from 1985-2007, and left the team after a federal investigation into his purchase of HGH turned up in a warehouse seizure in 2006.

Dr. Richard Ryzde, a former Steelers team physician, was charged with 185 counts of conspiracy to illegally distribute steroids, human growth hormone (HGH) and painkillers including oxycodone, Friday in Pittsburgh.

The investigation stemmed from the federal government's seizure of approximately $1 million worth of HGH and testosterone from a warehouse in Florida in 2006.

Fed traced the drugs back to Ryzde and by February, 2007, had been questioning him in regards to his possession of the drugs.

Ryzde left the team soon after the investigation broke, and ESPN's Outside The Lines quoted him in 2007:

"Because I was associated with the Steelers, the assumption was that I was giving everyone on the Steelers growth hormone or steroids," Rydze told ESPN.com in his first in-depth interview on the subject. "You say a team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and you are saying he is buying growth hormone from a pharmacy in Florida -- what the hell else are you going to think? "That whole thing got way overblown. I was doing some kind of little bit of research back then and using growth hormone to help heal people with tendon injuries. That seems to be, in my estimation in looking at that hormone, the only role it really plays in helping people. It does seem to make you heal better, quicker. So we were using it with various orthopedic patients.

"It was never done in athletes. It was never with any Steelers."

Ryzde had claimed to only be using the drugs with orthopedic patients, and never used it on an athlete. A colleague of Ryzde's Dr. Julian Bailes, former neurosurgical consultant to the Steelers from 1988-97, said he never witnessed any treatment through the use of HGH and hadn't heard of anything like it, either.

The fact Ryzde was charged Friday seems to have little impact on the Steelers, considering Ryzde left the team soon after the investigation turned up his name.

Steelers owner Dan Rooney declined comment in the ESPN story in 2007.

The indictment does not list any patients - professional athletes or otherwise - and the charges all stem from Sept. 2007 to March, 2011. Ryzde had left the team in February, 2007.


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