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Doctor indicted on giving steroids to NFL players

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A doctor who was accused in a television
report of writing illegal steroid prescriptions for three former
Carolina Panthers players has been indicted on federal charges.

James M. Shortt was charged with 29 counts of distributing
steroids and human growth hormones as well as a conspiracy charge,
U.S. Attorney Johnny Gasser said Wednesday. The indictment did not
specify who received the drugs.

But a person familiar with the indictment said they were current
and former members of the Carolina Panthers, bodybuilders and at
least one police officer. The source spoke to The Associated Press
on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing,
and did not name players.

A CBS News report in March identified center Jeff Mitchell, tackle Todd Steussie and punter Todd Sauerbrun as having filled steroid prescriptions written by Shortt. Several other former Panthers have also been named as Shortt's patients in subsequent media reports.

The NFL is nearing the conclusion of an investigation it began
after that report, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said late last
month. The players involved probably won't be suspended, he said.

Of the players identified in the initial CBS report, only
Mitchell, the Panthers' starting center, remains with the team.
Steussie is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sauerbrun was traded
to the Denver Broncos.

Shortt's attorney Ward Bradley said he had not seen the
indictment but would defend his client.

"I had a feeling an indictment was coming," said Bradley, who
wouldn't comment on the specifics within the indictment.

Shortt, 58, also faces a state investigation in the death of a
woman given intravenous hydrogen peroxide to treat her multiple
sclerosis.

The indictment said the conspiracy began in 1998 and the
prescriptions, which included testosterone, nandrolone and
stanozolol, occurred from February 2001 to June 2004.

"Shortt knowingly and intentionally did conspire with others
... to knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully possess with intent
to distribute and dispense" the illegal steroids, according to the
indictment.

The South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners suspended Shortt's
medical license in April. According to the board's suspension
order, Shortt prescribed the steroid testosterone to four unnamed
male patients "in doses and frequencies that were extremely
unlikely to have been prescribed with any legitimate medical
justification."