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USC Football Player Says Painkiller Team Doctor Used Gave Him A Heart Attack

Armond Armstead #94 of the USC Trojans rushes against the Oregon State Beavers on October 24, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. USC won 42-36. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
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The team doctor for the USC football team has admitted to ignoring FDA and American Medical Association guidelines when treating players, according to documents related to a lawsuit filed against the doctor and the university. The improper medical care allegedly led to a player suffering a heart attack at the age of 21.In a lawsuit filed in August of 2012, former Trojans defensive lineman Armond Armstead accuses Doctor James Tibone, USC, and the University Park Medical Center of improperly treating him with the painkiller Toradol. Armstead claims that Tibone never warned him of the medication's side effects, which violates the AMA's informed consent guidelines. The lawsuit also alleges Tibone would also inject him before games to prevent pain and at least twice gave Armstead a second shot at halftime, going against the FDA recommendations for safe use of the drug. According to the documents dug up by Vice Sports, Tibone says he ignored Toradol's box warnings because he "didn't agree with them."

Toradol is one of many painkillers used by football teams, both in the professional and college ranks, to treat their players who endure the misery of playing a sport that causes chronic and painful health problems long after a player's short playing career is over. It has long been an open secret that teams in both levels have been very loose with giving their players these drugs in order to keep men on the field. In November, federal agents launched surprise raids on six NFL teams.

One of the side effects of Toradol is an increased risk for heart attacks, and an MRI had revealed that in early 2011 Armstead had suffered one at the age of 21.

Armstead wound up sitting out his senior season in 2011, and was subsequently not selected in the 2012 NFL Draft. He played one season in the Canadian Football League, signed with the New England Patriots in 2013 but never played, and retired from professional football in July at the age of 23. He filed his lawsuit in August of 2012, claiming his improper medical treatment in college hurt his future earning potential.

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After Armstead filed his lawsuit USC began issuing a form for athletes to sign, summarizing the side effects of Toradol. "Serious risks should NOT be of major concern for healthy young athletes without chronic diseases," the form reads.