State alleges improper prescriptions by UW sports physician

Updated: October 17, 2003, 1:55 PM ET

SEATTLE -- A physician with ties to Washington's athletics program was suspended from practicing medicine over allegations he improperly provided prescription drugs to a softball player, a UW trainer, and a trainer for the U.S. Olympic softball team, state licensing officials said Friday.

The Medical Quality Assurance Commission and the state Department of Health issued a summary suspension of the license of Dr. William Scheyer of Kirkland. Scheyer must immediately stop practicing as a physician and writing medical prescriptions, pending an administrative hearing.

Scheyer also was accused of accepting prescriptions of steroids for his own use. He didn't immediately return telephone messages left by The Associated Press.

State officials said a pharmacist, Edward Matsuwaka, also was implicated in the investigation. Scheyer and Matsuwaka, who also couldn't be reached for comment, have 20 days to respond to the commission's "statement of charges."

Scheyer, a former team doctor for the UW football program and a consulting physician to the women's softball team, wrote hundreds of prescriptions and dispensed thousands of doses of narcotics, sedatives, stimulants, pain-killers and tranquilizers, state health officials said.

"We have specific evidence those medications were given or at least acquired by three people," said Doren Maniece, executive director of the state's medical quality assurance commission.

He said one recipient was a Washington athlete, who wasn't identified.

"We talked to that student, and that student denied receiving more than a few tablets that were written in that student's name," said Don Williams, executive director of the state Board of Pharmacy.

At least one Washington trainer also received the drugs, as well as a trainer with the USA softball team, officials said.

Officials from USA Softball and the U.S. Olympic Committee didn't return telephone messages seeking comment.

In some cases, Scheyer put the medications in white envelopes and handed them over to trainers who then gave them to athletes. The investigation found Scheyer often distributed the drugs with little or no medical evaluation and kept almost no records for the athletes.

The scope of the distribution remains under investigation. Maniece said he didn't know if the drugs were distributed to athletes beyond the university softball team and USA Softball programs.

"We have two different trainers and a softball player as well," he said. "We believe that trainers might have been passing them (drugs) along but there is no solid evidence."

The university severed its official relationship with Scheyer last month, the agencies said.

Calls Friday by The Associated Press to Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges; Norm Arkans, UW vice president for external affairs; and Jim Daves, UW sports media relations director, were not immediately returned.

In a copyright story Friday, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported that the commission's investigative file said Scheyer admitted buying stockpiles of drugs and dispensing them to college athletes over many years.

He described the students as "vulnerable and particularly dependent upon his judgment and care."

The newspaper said that in an interview Thursday night from his home in Kirkland, Scheyer denied illegally giving steroids or other drugs to athletes or trainers. He said medications he was taking for his own osteoporosis and broken back were somehow mixed up in the state's investigation.

"There's never been an anabolic steroid prescribed to my knowledge to a university athlete or student," he told The News Tribune.

Scheyer said that the university's risk management office audited the prescriptions he wrote every year and never found a problem.

Scheyer added that he wrote the university's drug policy on regulating anabolic steroids and how the university tests for them, and has served as a drug-testing crew chief for the National Collegiate Athletics Association and the Olympic Games since 1984.

Scheyer said the UW never asked him to quit, and that he served as the physician for the softball team as recently as two weeks ago. He said he met with Hedges on Thursday because Hedges told him The News Tribune was looking into the state's case.

It is the first time the state has investigated a complaint against Scheyer, who has been in practice in Washington since 1959, according to state Health Department records.

Scheyer, a sports medicine specialist and surgeon, runs the Washington Sports Medicine Institute in Kirkland.

Scheyer was a team doctor for UW's football, track and field, and men's basketball teams until 1997. Former UW football coach Rick Neuheisel switched from a system of team doctors to using the university's medical school physicians when he took over the program in 1999.

Matsuwaka, a pharmacist for Seattle's Swedish Medical Center, was fired from that position after hospital officials last April discovered "a pattern of irregular activity around filling prescriptions," Swedish spokeswoman Sally Wright said Friday.

In issuing unprofessional conduct charges against Matsuwaka, the state Board of Pharmacy alleges he dispensed numerous prescriptions, including controlled substances, to multiple patients that were not issued for the sole use of the patients.

The prescriptions were not for legitimate medical or therapeutic purposes, and were dispense without a signed prescription, the board alleges.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index