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Guilty plea in alleged internet steroid ring

Drug sales over the net a booming business

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A former doctor from New York state has pleaded guilty to a charge related to a multistate ring that allegedly used the internet to sell $40m worth of steroids to professional athletes.

Ana Maria Santi, 68, of New York city faces a minimum prison sentence of two to four years and a maximum of three to six years. She copped to one felony count of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions.

According to prosecutors in Albany, New York, Santi signed prescriptions that were already filled out when they were faxed to her during a stretch from January 2005 to September 2006, numerous news outlets reported. A network of online clinics used the prescriptions to secure and distribute the substances, which included steroids, human growth hormone and other controlled substances.

Albany prosecutors are prepared to subpoena professional athletes from from Major League Baseball, the National Football League and wrestling organizations if necessary to pursue additional suspects, Bloomberg and others report.

A top target in prosecutors' investigation is Signature Pharmacy, an Orlando, Florida, enterprise that allegedly acted as a clearing house for 50 or more websites and clinics. Signature principals have denied wrongdoing. Other suspects include Oasis Longevity and Rejuvenation in Delray Beach, Florida. Santi is alleged to have written prescriptions for $150,000 worth of substances for Oasis, and others.

The probe opens a window into the sale of drugs over the internet, which over the years has emerged into a booming business. Albany prosecutors initiated their investigation after one of them, posing as an airline pilot who wanted to get high on the job, was able to purchase steroids, Ritalin and methadone. ®

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