It took three sets of handcuffs for Polk County narcotics detectives to arrest a former bodybuilder from Lakeland in the largest anabolic steroids bust in Polk County's history, according to Polk Sheriff Grady Judd.
Richard Thomas, 35, said he is the largest anabolic steroids dealer in Central Florida, providing the illegal muscle-building hormones to professional baseball, football and hockey athletes, authorities said.
At a Tuesday night press conference announcing the arrest of the pair, Polk County Sheriff's officials were surrounded by thousands of doses of anabolic steroids.
What investigators aren't sure of is whether Richard Thomas, 35, is telling the truth when he says he is the biggest steroid provider in Central Florida and that he sold mostly to professional athletes, including those on the Washington Capitals hockey team and Washington Nationals baseball team.
At least it didn't indicate the Lightning had players involved.
Honestly, what is it with Polk County?
They werent named specifically, but Grady Judd was on the radio this morning doing an interview and he made it very clear that Washington wasnt the only team going to be named. He said the investigations are just starting but that the man arrested is naming several teams from several sports in all areas.
"While he stated to detectives that he sold steroids to professional athletes on those teams, he did not mention any specific players' names.
"Our detectives, with their supervisors, interviewed and re-interviewed Thomas on these points. We have no evidence other than the statements from this self-proclaimed 'largest steroid dealer in central Florida' that he sold steroids to professional athletes, however, the investigation is ongoing."
"'You name the sport and I've sold it,' he specifically told us that he has sold drugs to pro baseball players, pro football players and pro hockey players," Sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference.
Investigators said Thomas would not give them any names, and at this point they do not have any corroborating evidence of his claims.
Detectives said Thomas told them he would buy the drugs himself in various places around the world including Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China.
"To me that's more frightening than his allegations about professional baseball players," Sheriff Judd said. "How does such things get here from such countries?"
Thomas also told detectives doing drugs and selling drugs is all he's ever known, claiming at one time he was the largest steroid supplier in the state, officials said.
I posted something similar to this on the Caps board...
I think the guy knows he's busted... I mean, there is no getting around the monumental evidence. That's why he's offering the information so freely. Dangling the fact that he's sold to pro athletes in front of the police, in hopes of getting a plea deal to name names.
On the fact that there is no drug testing in the NHL during the playoffs and offseason: "That's also true, but was he supplying this year, was it a few years ago, when there was no testing? You know, there's a few things I guess you gotta make sure of, but, to tell you the truth, if there was, I wouldn't know, and there's no kind of [player] I would know that would use steroids. It wouldn't be in their best interest to do it anyway."
On the chance that any of his teammates have used performance-enhancing drugs: "I would really doubt it. I mean, I would really doubt it. I don't know. It's a tough position; it's hard to say, I mean, maybe there is and we don't know the ones that are doing it. They wouldn't necessarily tell us."
They wouldn't necessarily tell us. Exactly. No one is going to say "Yep, I bought roids off of him. I've been doing them for years. Thanks for asking."
Q: Do you have any idea what the suspect in the steroids case is talking about?
A: I have no idea. As far we know it's just speculation. The guy didn't say if it was 10 years ago that he sold to the Capitals. Whether it was five ago that he sold. We have no idea. I've already been in touch with all of our players, and there's nothing on our side to report.
Q: You said you've been calling each and every one of your teammates. What's been the reaction?
A: I just woke up to a phone call a little while ago [Laich is in Saskatchewan, which is two hours behind]. My phone rang about 8:30 a.m. So I'm trying to catch up on the situation. Guys are surprised. No one knows anything. I feel bad calling guys because you're not implying that someone has done something. But you have to make sure to clean the slate. The general answer has been, 'No, I haven't seen or heard of any of it,' and it would be impossible to get it by our locker room if there was because it's too tight, there's too much stuff going on. You would know if someone was doing it. But no one has seen a trace of it or heard a rumor of it. So we're not worried.
Lightning center Jeff Halpern, who played for the Capitals from 1996-2004, said, "I find it hard to believe," any teammates were using.
"Personally, I don't think anybody took them," Halpern said. "I don't remember it being around. I don't know of anybody talking about it. I'm sure in the history of the NHL there have been guys who used it, but on any of the teams I've been on it's never been around or, to my knowledge, been used. I could be completely wrong but that's what I think."
"The Washington Capitals have no knowledge of any aspect of this allegation. Capitals players were subjected to no-notice testing three times in each of the past two seasons pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and there was no indication of any improper conduct or wrongdoing.
"Even though there are no specifics provided in the story and we have no reason, at this point, to believe the allegations are true, the National Hockey League takes all matters of this nature very seriously and will conduct a prompt investigation."
-- Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner
"We have no reason to believe there is any merit to this story, but the National Hockey League and the Washington Capitals take all such allegations seriously. Capitals players have fully participated in the NHL's random drug testing program, and at no point has a Capitals player tested positive. In addition our players have been tested at international events, such as World Championships and Olympics. We welcome and will fully cooperate with the NHL's investigation."