Report: Doctor advised Panthers how to beat tests

Updated: December 2, 2005, 11:59 AM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The doctor accused of writing illegal steroid prescriptions for three former Carolina Panthers advised the players how to take the drugs without failing league tests, The State reported Friday.

A judge heard tape-recorded conversations Thursday between Dr. James Shortt and the three players, in which Shortt details how he could help them avoid being detected for performance-enhancing drugs, the newspaper reported.

Shortt has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges against him, which include distributing steroids and human growth hormones.

In a consultation with former Panthers punter Todd Sauerbrun, now with the Denver Broncos, on June 24, 2003, Shortt said, "You came to me ... wanting some performance enhancement. We can do that -- legal performance enhancement -- because you're drug tested in your profession."

U.S. District Judge Joe Anderson also heard a tape of a consultation with former tight end Wesley Walls on Feb. 18, 2003.

"Now here's the key," Shortt said. "You want to use a natural testosterone. You do not want to use testosterone or any kind of Depo [testosterone injection] because that's how they test you. They look for the Depo.

"For somebody like you, I can triple your testosterone levels without blowing any whistles."

The third tape included conversations with center Jeff Mitchell.

A CBS News report in March identified Mitchell, Sauerbrun and tackle Todd Steussie as having filled steroid prescriptions written by Shortt. In addition to Walls, former Panther Kevin Donnalley also has been named in media reports as a patient of Shortt.

Prosecutors said the three tapes, along with 16 others, were seized under a search warrant for Shortt's office, The State reported.

An attorney representing Sauerbrun cautioned against reading too much into the tapes.

"It was a consultation," attorney Jim Griffin told the newspaper. "It shows that Todd was seeking the advice of a medical doctor, and that's all it shows."

The hearing Thursday was held to determine whether an HBO television special in could be entered as evidence during Shortt's trial, which is set for March. Prosecutors said they played the tapes to show conflicts between what Shortt said in the television special and what he told patients.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press