Much as I hate to challenge the veracity of the below report from the New York Daily News’ T.J. Quinn, Christian Redd and Michael O’Keefee, we have to ask ourselves…is it really like Tony La Genius to unknowingly have a PED user in his clubhouse? Sure, it might’ve happened a couple of times with relatively obscure players like Jose Whatshisface and Mark McSomething, but that’s nothing compared to the following accusations leveled at the real life version of Roy Hobbs.

According to records obtained by The News and sources close to the controversy surrounding anti-aging clinics that dispense illegal prescription drugs, Ankiel received eight shipments of HGH from Signature Pharmacy in Orlando from January to December 2004, including the brand-name injectable drugs Saizen and Genotropin. Signature is the pharmacy at the forefront of Albany District Attorney David Soares’ two-year investigation into illegal Internet prescription drug sales, which has brought 22 indictments and nine convictions.

Ankiel’s prescriptions were signed by Florida physician William Gogan, who provided them through a Palm Beach Gardens clinic called “The Health and Rejuvenation Center,” or “THARC.” The drugs were shipped to Ankiel at the clinic’s address.

THARC also provided a shipment of steroids and growth hormone to former major league pitcher Steve Woodard, who pitched for Milwaukee, Cleveland, Texas and Boston during a seven-year career that ended in 2003, according to records. Woodard and Ankiel were teammates with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds in 2004.

Ankiel, 28, has not been accused by authorities of wrongdoing, and according to the Signature records obtained by The News, he stopped receiving HGH just before Major League Baseball officially banned it in 2005. MLB does not test for HGH, but a player who is known to have used it or even possessed it from the time it was banned can face a 50-game suspension.

According to physician Gary Wadler, a committee member with the World Anti-Doping Agency and an associate professor of medicine at NYU, there is a limited number of reasons a healthy man in his 20s would have a medical need for HGH.

Unlike most drugs, federal law bans the use of HGH for off-label purposes: Physicians can distribute growth hormone only in connection with either treatment of a disease or another medical condition authorized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. “You need a bona fide doctor-patient relationship and a bona fide disease to distribute growth hormone,” Wadler said.

The list of possible uses of HGH by a healthy man in his mid-20s is “extremely narrow,” Wadler added.

If nothing else, I think we’ve finally reached the point —- after less than a month, mind you — where journalists and bloggers alike might tread carefully before suggesting Ankiel represents some kind of antitode to the Sultan Of Surly.

And please, as always, let’s look at the positives here. If nothing else, we might’ve finally learned exactly why Scott Spiezio sought treatment for an undisclosed substance last month. It might actually be possible to overdose on a fraudulent working environment.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to researching which internet merchants might be able to help Guillermo Mota retire Ankiel in a possible postseason match-up recover from a nagging injury.