Actor Sylvester Stallone pleaded guilty Tuesday to bringing vials of restricted muscle-building hormones into Australia and faces sentencing next week.
Lawyers for the 60-year-old star of the “Rocky” and “Rambo” movies entered the guilty pleas on behalf of the actor, who did not appear before Sydney’s Downing Center Local Court.
“I made a terrible mistake, not because I was attempting to deceive anyone but I was simply ignorant to your official rules,” Stallone said in a letter to Sydney’s Local Court. “I feel terrible that my breach of the rules has set a poor example to members of the public, whose opinion I cherish dearly.”
Stallone was accused of bringing banned substances into Australia after a customs search of his luggage during a Feb. 16 visit to Sydney revealed 48 vials of the human growth hormone product, Jintropin.
Three days later, Stallone threw four vials of the male hormone testosterone from his Sydney hotel room when customs officials arrived to search it, prosecutor David Agius told the court.
Human growth hormone, a naturally occurring substance that can be replicated synthetically and is used to build muscle mass, is considered a performance enhancing drug in Australia and it cannot be imported without a permit from the national drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The maximum penalty for bringing Jintropin into Australia illegally is a fine of $91,500 and five years in prison, but Stallone faces a maximum penalty of just $18,000 on each of the two charges because the matter is being heard by a local, not federal, court.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Paul Cloran said Stallone would be sentenced on Monday next week.
Stallone’s lawyer Phillip Boulten said the actor should be spared a criminal conviction, saying Stallone took the hormones for medical reasons that he did not specify.
“The defendant, Sylvester Stallone, is extremely mortified about having been involved in this incident,” Boulten told the court. “Had he known that what he was doing was contrary to Australian law, he almost certainly would not have done it.”
But Agius said Stallone had demonstrated a “consciousness of guilt” by throwing the testosterone from the hotel.
Boulten said Stallone was taking both substances under medical supervision.
“This is not some back-alley body builder dealing covertly with some banned substance in some sort of secret way,” he said. “This was a legitimate medical condition being treated by doctors of the top ranking order in the west coast of the United States.”
Agius told Cloran that Stallone was to have appeared in the court through a video link but that that plan had been abandoned. Agius did not elaborate.
Prosecution documents handed to the court in March said Stallone had marked “No” on a customs declaration card that asked if he was bringing into Australia restricted or prohibited goods “such as medicines, steroids, firearms, weapons, or any kind of illicit drugs.”
During his visit to Australia, Stallone shrugged off the airport incident.
“It was just a minor misunderstanding,” Stallone told reporters “They were just doing their jobs. I just didn’t understand some of the rules here.”
He came to Australia on a three-day tour to promote the latest movie in the “Rocky” series, “Rocky Balboa.” A media throng was kept waiting for hours outside Sydney International Airport for the actor and his entourage.
When a tightlipped Stallone emerged, he signed his autograph for several fans but avoided media questions about the delay.