Ankiel defends himself on report he got HGH supply

Updated: September 8, 2007, 1:12 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Rick Ankiel says any drugs he received in 2004 were prescribed by a licensed physician to help him recover from reconstructive elbow surgery.

Ankiel, whose comeback is one of the great stories of this season, initially acknowledged human growth hormone was among those medications during a brief session with reporters Friday, then refused to list his various prescriptions.

"I'm not going to go into the list of what my doctors have prescribed for me," the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder said when asked specifically whether he had taken HGH as part of his recovery. "I've been through a lot emotionally and physically. There are doctor and patient privileges, and I hope you guys respect those privileges."

The New York Daily News reported in Friday's editions that Ankiel received eight shipments of HGH from January to December 2004 from Signature Pharmacy, under investigation for illegally distributing prescription medications. The performance-enhancing drug was banned by Major League Baseball in 2005, but a test has yet to be developed.

I respect the integrity of the game. I'm on the same playing level that everybody else is on.

-- Rick Ankiel

Friday afternoon, Ankiel sat beside Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty in the visitors' dugout at Chase Field to answer questions about the newspaper's findings before the series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I respect the integrity of the game," Ankiel said, "and I'm on the same playing level that everybody else is on."

After talking to Ankiel, Jocketty said he was satisfied that nothing improper had occurred.

"Everything was legal," he said. "There was no violation of major league rules. There was no violation of any laws. At this point, if there's anything more to decide, Major League Baseball will look at it and let us know."

Citing records the newspaper obtained, the Daily News said Ankiel got HGH shipments that included Saizen and Genotropin, two injectable drugs. Florida physician Dr. William Gogan signed Ankiel's prescriptions, providing them through a Palm Beach Gardens clinic called The Health and Rejuvenation Center (THARC), the newspaper reported.

The drugs were shipped to Ankiel at the clinic's address, the paper said.

Ankiel said he was aware of the clinic but not Signature Pharmacy.

"I don't know anything about the pharmacy," Ankiel said, "and I don't know anyone there. I've never purchased or ordered anything from that pharmacy."

MLB officials already have said they would like to talk with Ankiel, and he said he would cooperate with any investigation.

"I'll be happy to help and conduct anything that Major League Baseball wants to talk about it," Ankiel said.

The outfielder has been the talk of the league after hitting nine home runs and 29 RBIs since being called up from the minors Aug. 9. He returned to the majors in style, just three seasons after his promising pitching career was in ruins after he inexplicably lost all control on the mound.

"I'm just disappointed," said Ankiel, who homered twice and drove in seven runs in the Cardinals' 16-4 home victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday. "I just don't want it to become a bigger distraction that it already has become. We're in the middle of a pennant race. I just want to be able to go out there and compete at the highest level I can."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press