Update: Steroids And The NFL

Report: 3 Carolina Panthers Filled Prescriptions Before Super Bowl

60 Minutes Wednesday has some developments in a story that Contributing Correspondent Anderson Cooper reported on two weeks ago, about steroids and the NFL.

In that report, pharmacy records 60 Minutes Wednesday obtained revealed that three members of the Carolina Panthers received prescriptions for banned steroids shortly before they played in the 2004 Super Bowl.

The day after that story aired, the same congressional committee that recently called some of baseball's biggest stars to testify about steroids asked the NFL for detailed information about its steroid-testing program.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has pledged the league's full cooperation, and last week, the league and its players union agreed to toughen the testing standards for testosterone, one of the steroids mentioned in our report.

As for Dr. James Shortt, the South Carolina physician who prescribed the steroids, he still won't talk to 60 Minutes Wednesday about the football players. But he's apparently considering a second career, which brought him to New York City just last week.

"I have had people for years trying to get me to write a book," says Shortt, who is represented by agent Doug Ames, the same agent who helped Jose Canseco get a deal for his book about steroids.

"It's going to be a powerful book," says Ames. "We might be even called back to Congress. That's how powerful this book's going to be."

Broadcast: March 30, 2005
The baseball season opens next week under a shadow cast by allegations of steroid abuse.

The National Football League, by contrast, has been widely praised for having a tough steroid-testing program – which is why 60 Minutes Wednesday was surprised when an investigation we began last year led us to a list of prescriptions filled by current and former NFL players.

On the list were the names of NFL players who had prescriptions for steroids filled shortly before they played in the 2004 Super Bowl. Contributing Correspondent Anderson Cooper reports.

Super Bowl 2004 turned out to be one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever. When the Carolina Panthers took on the New England Patriots, 140 million Americans tuned in to watch.

Two players among the Panthers' starting offensive linemen had prescriptions filled for a banned steroid within a week and a half of the game, according to the list obtained by 60 Minutes Wednesday. So did the Panthers' star punter, one of the best in the NFL.

The list says the Panthers players had prescriptions for steroids filled at a South Carolina pharmacy. It doesn't say whether they actually used the steroids. But all three players repeatedly refilled their prescriptions – in one case, 10 times.

The NFL says it tests players randomly, without warning, throughout the year. And yet there's no record of these players ever testing positive.

"Apparently, players are not intimidated by the program," says David Black, a forensic toxicologist who helped the NFL set up its drug testing program in the late 1980s. 60 Minutes Wednesday showed him the players' prescription information without telling him their names.

"I must confess, before looking at this information, I really did not imagine that someone could use -- drug as it's represented here, and not be identified in the program," says Black, who thought they would get caught.

How members of the Carolina Panthers came to our attention is a story in itself -- a story that begins near an airport on the outskirts of Columbia, S.C., at the offices of Dr. James Shortt, a self-described "longevity physician." Shortt, as 60 Minutes Wednesday reported in January, was accused of killing one of his patients.

The county coroner said a controversial intravenous therapy the doctor administered was responsible for the death of patient Katherine Bibeau, but Shortt said she died of other causes.

Attorney Richard Gergel told 60 Minutes Wednesday last year that he was suing Shortt on behalf of the patient's family. Gergel also sued the neighboring Congaree pharmacy that filled some of the doctor's prescriptions.

In response to a routine request for documents, the pharmacy's lawyers provided Gergel with a list showing all the prescriptions the pharmacy filled for Shortt and his patients, from January through October 2004 – including the prescriptions for three Carolina Panthers.

Mignon Simpson is one of two former employees of Shortt who helped 60 Minutes Wednesday corroborate information on the list given by Gergel. While watching the Carolina Panthers play in the 2004 Super Bowl, she said she "recognized some of the players" that she had seen in Shortt's office.

Former patient Marguerite Meyer says she saw one of the Panthers in Shortt's office in the summer of 2004. "He was just very big. He was, I think, the biggest person I had seen," recalls Meyer, who says she asked Shortt's nurse, Kathleen Rush, who he was. "And Kathleen said, 'That was Todd Steussie.'"

Offensive lineman Todd Steussie – 6'6", and 320 pounds, is an NFL veteran and two-time Pro-Bowler. Out of 190 games, he's missed only one because of injury – a remarkable record.

His prescription record, however, tells a different story: 11 prescriptions of testosterone cream over an eight-month period.