Dr. Ramon Scruggs Admitted Prescribing Drugs for Performance Enhancement
Ramon Scruggs, M.D. pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and import human growth hormone into the United States from China and one count of money laundering on June 1, 2009. Scruggs admitted to prescribing anabolic steroids and HGH “outside the usual course of professional practice” at his anti-aging clinic called New Hope Health Center in California. Scruggs acknowledged he prescribed the medications to athletes and bodybuilders for performance enhancing purposes and not legitimate therapeutic purposes.
Ramon Scruggs, M.D. openly worked with bodybuilders visiting his New Hope Med website as early as 1999; he felt that the best way for a physician to effectively supervise the health of a steroid-using bodybuilder was to medically monitor their steroid use and assure that bodybuilders avoided potentially dangerous black market sources of anabolic steroids. At the time, Dr. Scruggs felt that he was doing the right thing by monitoring and prescribing steroids to bodybuilders even if it was in violation of the law.
“I feel very comfortable in the choices I’ve made and the reason for those choices. I know that I’m helping people far more than I’m hurting them,” Scruggs said in an interview with Jason Mueller of Anabolic Extreme. “If you want to know the truth, I don’t like taking 22 or 23 year-old and putting them on steroids, it makes me nervous. Yet, I’d rather have them come to me and manage their steroid use, and then have them do it on their own.”
Dr. Scruggs liberally prescribed steroids to bodybuilders and athletes whose testosterone levels were considered normal. He justification his prescription policy by criticizing the established normal range accepted by the medical community.
“I’ll admit to you that as I do this, my criteria have relaxed. Before I would only do this with athletes or with ordinary citizens if they had a limitation, if they were hypogonadal, if they were on the low side of normal on their blood work,” explained Scruggs. “I’ve gradually relaxed that to include people who would be quote unquote normal. You’ve got to realize that virtually everything hormonal is considered normal by the establishment. They have virtually no ability to look at, let’s say the estrogen/progesterone levels for a woman, and testosterone for men and women, and say anything much about them at all because everybody from age 12 to age 90 is considered normal.”
Ramon Scruggs had already faced the consequences of his decision to liberally prescribe steroids to bodybuilders. In June 2004, the State of California formally accused Dr. Scruggs of prescribing steroids and ancillary medications without justification over the internet to patients who he did not physically examine. He settled his case with the State of California in August 2006. In the settlement, Scruggs agreed the state could prove the charges and accepted a $4,800 fine and 35 months of probation: during that time he is required to have an outside monitor, take various courses and cease prescribing over the Internet. The settlement was agreed to in August 2006 and took effect in March 2007.
Dr. Scruggs probably thought that his legal troubles were behind him. But in the fall of 2007, the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, which led the investigation of the steroid scandal involving Signature Pharmacy, leaked information that Dr. Scruggs prescribed steroids to professional baseball players Troy Glaus and Scott Schoeneweis playing for the Anaheim Angels in 2003 and 2004. As a result of the leak, federal prosecutors decided to re-open the case of anti-aging doctor Ramon Scruggs in an effort to find more baseball players who have used anabolic steroids.
Glaus and Schoeneweis as well as catcher Todd Greene and pitcher Ismael Valdez were interviewed by federal agents investigating Scruggs. Glaus and Greene testified at the grand jury that indicted Dr. Scruggs. The New York Times reported that Glaus and Greene told the grand jury that Mike Nicotera and Gene Casaleggio, senior partners for the Sparta Group, referred them Dr. Scruggs.
Ramon Scruggs is scheduled for sentencing on September 14, 2009 by U.S. District Judge James Ware. He faces up to 25 years imprisonment and a $750,000 fine.
Ramon Scruggs, M.D. has and continues to pay a substantial penalty for prescribing steroids and HGH to bodybuilders and athletes, including a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing in October 2005.
“I don’t have any emotional reserve left,” Dr. Scruggs told Michael Schmidt of the New York Times. “I have been fighting this for 10 years. It has destroyed myself, my life and my family. If I was smart I would be on a beach in Manawatu.”
“Inside a Tempting World of Easy Steroids,” April 11, 2009
“Questions and Answers With Ramon Scruggs,” April 11, 2009
”Inquiry Into Doctor May Link Players to Drugs,” March 12, 2008
“Interview with Dr. Ramon Scruggs,” April 1999
By Millard Baker