tampabay.com

Steroid report names Buc, former Countryside star

Bucs' tackle Todd Steussie and Jeff Mitchell reportedly had steroid prescriptions filled two weeks before they played in the 2004 Super Bowl.

By RICK STROUD
Published March 29, 2005


Bucs tackle Todd Steussie, the former Carolina Panthers free agent, had steroid prescriptions filled by a West Columbia, S.C., doctor under investigation by federal authorities, according to a 60 Minutes Wednesday report. The program will air at 8 p.m. Wednesday on WTSP-Ch. 10.

Steussie and two of his former Panthers teammates - ex-University of Florida center Jeff Mitchell and punter Todd Sauerbrun - had prescriptions for testosterone cream filled within two weeks of Carolina's appearance in the 2004 Super Bowl against the Patriots, the CBS news show said in a release Tuesday. Mitchell also was an all-state player at Countryside High School in Clearwater and the Times' Suncoast Defensive Player of the Year in 1991.

The Bucs signed Steussie to a six-year, $20-million contract in March 2004, three days after his release from the Panthers. He started the first five games at right tackle last season but was benched in favor of Kenyatta Walker after yielding a sack against the Saints that resulted in an injury to quarterback Chris Simms' left throwing shoulder.

According to CBS, Steussie obtained 11 refills over an eight-month period in 2004 while Mitchell filled a testosterone prescription seven times.

Sauerbrun obtained syringes and the injectable steroid Stanozolol, which is banned by the NFL.

The prescriptions for the steroids were written by Dr. James Shortt, who is the target of probe by the Drug Enforcement Administration for allegedly prescribing steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.

Steussie and Mitchell could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The Bucs referred questions to the NFL.

"We have pledged our full cooperation to the DEA and are independently investigating the matter," said Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice-president of public relations.

Even before Steussie became linked to the investigation by CBS Tuesday, his future with the Bucs has been in doubt. He may be a candidate for release after June 1, when teams can move the remaining acceleration of the pro-rated signing bonus to the 2006 salary cap. Steussie's cap value is more than $2.6-million in 2005.

"I don't want to get into names," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said last week. "But we're going to have to find money to sign our draft picks."

Aiello said he was unaware of any of the players named by CBS who may have tested positive for steroids.

The NFL has an aggressive program of detection and punishment for the use of steroids. Seven players per team are tested each week during the season, including playoffs and the Super Bowl. The tests are random and continue periodically during the offseason, Aiello said.

Because testosterone is a natural substance, it would have to be detected at an unnatural threshold to trigger a positive test. Players who test positive the first time for steroids are suspended without pay for four games.

Shortt's Health Dimensions office and Congaree Pharmacy near the Columbia, S.C., airport were raided by authorities, who seized computer data, at least 21 boxes of patient and medical records and 256 audio cassettes.

The 60 Minutes Wednesday report includes an interview with Mignon Simpson, a former employee of Shortt, who says she personally shipped human growth hormone to NFL players and that possibly a half-dozen players received hGh from Short.

--Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.