The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will begin an internal investigation into the purchase of human growth hormone by Dr. Richard Rydze, one of the center's physicians and a Steelers' internist.
"UPMC became aware of this investigation yesterday afternoon by reading the newspaper reports," said a statement released by Susan Manko of the UPMC news bureau.
"We have initiated our own internal investigation. At this time we have no further factual information or comments. We, of course, maintain the highest quality of integrity and ethical behavior of our physicians. So we are initiating our own internal review."
Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement this afternoon that the team will continue to monitor the situation but that there is no evidence that Rydze provided any hormone treatments to any Steelers players.
"I advised the League office yesterday of our knowledge of the situation. I have also reviewed the matter with our Head Trainer, John Norwig, as well as the head of our medical staff, Dr. Tony Yates," Rooney said in the statement. "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."
"We will continue to monitor this situation to make sure that we can continue to feel confident in our medical staff in this area," Rooney said.
According to the Times-Union of Albany, N.Y., a New York investigator flew to Pittsburgh last month to interview Rydze about why he allegedly used a personal credit card to purchase roughly $150,000 in testosterone and human growth hormone in 2006.
Rydze told the investigator the drugs were for his private patients, the paper said, citing an unidentified person briefed on the interview. There are no allegations Rydze violated any laws.
Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said today that the Steelers are gathering information and may have a statement later in the day on the situation.
Rydze told Sports Illustrated that, "The Rooneys are aware that I do this ... I mean, they have my trust that I would never do this with an athlete."
The doctor told the magazine that he made the purchases and uses the HGH to treat elderly patients who are "deficient in growth hormone," and require tendon repair. "[It's] not for athletes, never," says Rydze. "I don't give it to people who want to come in here and look pretty and look young and build up their muscles. I will not do that."
Rooney said he first became aware of the investigation yesterday and immediately called Rydze, who acknowledged that he was questioned by FDA officials at his office. Rooney said Rydze was told he was not a target of the investigation.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.