Niagara Gazette

March 19, 2007

BUSTED: Sylvester Stallone charged with importing human growth hormone into Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Sylvester Stallone has been charged with trying to bring vials of a muscle-building hormone into Australia, where it is restricted.

Lawyers for Stallone, the 60-year-old star of the “Rocky” and “Rambo” movie franchises, represented him in a Sydney court on Tuesday where he faces a charge of importing a banned substance.

Stallone and his entourage were stopped at Sydney’s airport and detained for several hours on Feb. 16 while customs officials searched bags and confiscated items. His hotel room was searched and more items were confiscated three days later.

At the Sydney premier of his latest movie, “Rocky Balboa,” on Feb. 17, Stallone shrugged off the airport incident, calling it a “misunderstanding.”

Stallone and his group were allowed to leave Australia, and he was not required to appear in the Sydney Local Court for Tuesday’s hearing.

Prosecution documents handed to the court said Stallone had marked “No” on a customs declaration card that asked if was bringing into Australia restricted or prohibited goods “such as medicines, steroids, firearms, weapons, or any kind of illicit drugs.”

But an X-ray of bags among his entourage prompted a search that revealed 48 vials of the human growth hormone product Jintropin, the court heard.

The hormone is officially considered a performance-enhancing drug in Australia and it cannot be imported without a permit from the government.

The maximum penalty for bringing it into Australia illegally is a fine of $86,000 and five years in prison, but the Local Court can only impose a fine of $17,000. Stallone is unlikely to face the maximum penalty.

The case was adjourned until April 24, when Stallone’s lawyers will be asked to enter a plea on his behalf.