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Federal agents search office of former Steelers doctor

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By Margaret Harding
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Federal agents searched the Downtown practice of a former Steelers doctor once linked to a human growth hormone investigation, authorities confirmed Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland said it sent agents to Dr. Richard Rydze's office on First Avenue, but declined to say what authorities were looking for or whether they are targeting Rydze.

"The FBI was there in connection with law enforcement activity," said Mike Tobin, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Ohio.

The search warrant would not be made public, Tobin said.

Agents arrived about 9 a.m. Monday at Optimal Health Center, Rydze's primary care office, where they took items and questioned employees, said an employee who declined to give her name.

She declined to say what agents seized or what they asked. Rydze, 61, of Mt. Lebanon could not be reached by phone or at his office.

Rydze is a doctor with the Pittsburgh FBI office, said Special Agent Julie Halferty, a spokeswoman for the office. Since 1997, he performed physicals for agents on a contract basis, she said. Halferty referred questions about the case to Tobin.

Tobin said authorities have not filed charges against Rydze. He would not say why the Cleveland office is overseeing the case.

In early 2007, investigators with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration questioned Rydze about buying $150,000 worth of testosterone and human growth hormone, according to the Times Union in Albany, N.Y. The Albany County District Attorney's Office was investigating performance-enhancing drug use, the newspaper reported.

Rydze parted with the Steelers organization that summer after 22 years of service, ESPN reported.

Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said president Art Rooney II was not available for comment.

Rydze resigned as an internist with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in September 2007, a UPMC spokeswoman said.

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