Former Steelers Physician Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison

Ah, remember Richard Rydze? I wrote about him about 11 months ago, and for good reason, as he was convicted of illegally distributing steroids, painkillers, and human growth hormones. Rydze was formerly a Pittsburgh Steelers team physician until 2007, when his offices were first raided due to similar accusations.

I’m writing about him now because he has received his sentence, finally, and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he is going to spend the next 10 years in prison. The article notes that it has been one of the longest federal court trials in the history of the region.

“Rydze violated his legal, professional and ethical obligations”, the US attorney responsible for prosecuting him in the case said in a statement, according to the paper. “He flooded Pennsylvania with dangerous painkillers and prescribed steroids to enrich himself”.

Rydze did not work alone in what proved to be a broader conspiracy to distribute the aforementioned products. James Hatzimbes was sentenced to 14 months in prison this past August, while William Sadowski has already previously served a prison term of two and a half years.

“Greed and power often drives criminal activity as evidenced by this indictment, where a physician decided to abuse his medical privileges in order to line his pockets”, the Post-Gazette article quotes FBI agent Stephen D. Anthony as saying in response to the case.

He is accused of having distributed painkillers since at least 2005, which means that his illegal activities do overlap a bit with his tenure with the Steelers. He was with the team for over two decades, beginning in 1985.

He previously was an Olympic-class diver and was championed by the city of Pittsburgh, where he was born, raised, and educated. I detailed much of his earlier life when I wrote about his original conviction back in May if you wish to have a recap.

The physician claimed that he never provided athletes with the items that he procured, though it’s certainly well within the realm of possibility that he lied about that. I would hope that he didn’t, but either way, his association with the Steelers ended over a decade ago.

According to the Post-Gazette article, it was recommended by the court that he be housed in a prison local to the area due to medical concerns, and the possibility of a drug abuse treatment program was also mentioned, provided that he would qualify.

While Rydze’s Steelers ties may have long been severed, there are accusations of impropriety out there regarding current employees, namely head athletic director John Norwig and team surgeon Dr. James Bradley. I also wrote about that in the prior article linked to above if you want further information.

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