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Doctor enters guilty plea in steroids case

COLUMBIA, S.C. (March 6, 2006) -- A doctor accused of writing illegal steroid prescriptions to some members of the Carolina Panthers pleaded guilty to one federal conspiracy charge as part of a plea agreement.

Alternative medicine physician James Shortt, 59, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop 42 similar counts against the doctor who used to practice in West Columbia.

Prosecutors have said current and former members of the Carolina Panthers were some of Shortt's patients. After the guilty plea, they would not say if he treated players from any other NFL teams.

"I wrote prescriptions for and shipped growth hormone to individuals who wished to use those for weight gain and physical enhancement. I know now that was federally wrong and illegal," Shortt said.

U.S. Attorney Reginald Lloyd said Shortt will likely be sentenced in several months. Shortt faces up to five years in prison, two years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

In court, assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday said the case against Shortt was made easier by the doctor's own records.

Along with written notes, Shortt taped his meetings with patients, giving them one copy and keeping a second copy for himself.

A report last spring from the CBS program 60 Minutes Wednesday identified Panthers' center Jeff Mitchell, tackle Todd Steussie and punter Todd Sauerbrun as having filled steroid prescriptions written by Shortt.

Shortt, who told the judge he now lives in California, remains free on bond.

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