MCLEAN, Va. – A Virginia chiropractor was arrested on drug charges Tuesday after a co-defendant accused him of supplying steroids to members of two Washington-area professional sports teams.
One of the two teams, the NHL’s Washington Capitals, acknowledged Tuesday that some of their players had received “routine chiropractic services” from the suspect but denied that any players received steroids.
Douglas O. Nagel, 50, of Reston, was arrested Tuesday morning in Virginia and charged by Florida authorities with seven counts of soliciting to deliver a controlled substance, specifically steroids.
The Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office alleges that Nagel received regular shipments of steroids, including testosterone and nandrolone, from Richard Andrew Thomas of Lakeland, Fla. Thomas has since pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing steroids with intent to sell. He awaits sentencing.
According to an affidavit, Thomas told police that Nagel boasted about supplying steroids to members of the Capitals and Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals.
Police make no allegations in their charges about whether they believe Nagel was supplying professional athletes. Carrie Eleazer, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said police have no direct evidence indicating that athletes received steroids from Nagel.
On Tuesday, investigators with the sheriff’s office went to the Capitals’ practice facility in Arlington, Va. The team issued a statement Tuesday afternoon acknowledging Nagel had treated multiple players but rejected claims by Nagel that he served as “team chiropractor.” The team said it is co-operating with the investigation.
“The Washington Capitals are not the target of this investigation, and there is no evidence that steroids were provided to any Capitals players,” the statement said. “This has been a thorough investigation, and we are satisfied that law enforcement, the NHL and our own internal investigation have not led to any link of steroid use by Capitals players.”
Nagel billed himself as the team’s chiropractor on his website and office answering machine. One of his two offices is in Arlington, near the Capitals’ practice facility. Eleazer said she did not know why investigators went to the Capitals’ facility Tuesday.
A Nationals spokesman declined to comment, but said the team would email a statement later Tuesday.
Thomas’ case garnered attention last year after he was arrested and boasted to police: “You name the sport, and I’ve sold steroids to athletes who play it.” When pressed, Thomas specifically mentioned the Capitals and the Nationals. At the time, both teams said they had no reason to believe Thomas’ claims.
In a 2009 conference of the Annual Baseball Team Medicine Conference, Nagel was a presenter and described himself as a “chiropractic consultant” to both teams.
Nagel’s wife – Jan Adams Nagel, who helps run Nagel’s business, CHHC Sports Medicine – said in a brief phone interview that her husband never sold steroids. She said he had never provided any treatment to Nationals players and declined comment about whether he had treated any Washington Capitals.
Lawyer Brian West said Tuesday that he had been called about representing Nagel, but was not yet in place and could not comment.
After Thomas was arrested last year, police had him make several recorded phone calls to Nagel seeking incriminating information, according to the affidavit. But Nagel told Thomas that he didn’t want to speak over the phone.
Nagel was interviewed by police and admitted receiving steroids from Thomas. But there is no mention in the affidavit of what Nagel did with those steroids.
Nagel has faced disciplinary action from regulatory boards in Pennsylvania and Virginia. The Virginia Board of Medicine issued a reprimand and US$1,000 fine to Nagel in 2005 for unlicensed practice of chiropractic and lying on his license application. In 2003, he was cited by the Pennsylvania Board of Chiropractic for practising without a license.
Nagel was being held at the Fairfax County jail pending a bond hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Associated Press Writer Joseph White contributed to this report from Washington.