NBA Drug Testing Highlighted By Suspension Of Calathes

NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan has defended the anti-doping program of the league. Buchanan, the league official charged with overseeing its operation, however said he "did not agree" with the outcome of the case of Memphis Grizzlies point guard Nick Calathes who was suspended for 20 games after the drug Tamoxifen was discovered in his urine sample.

NBA Drug Testing Highlighted By Suspension Of Calathes

Calathes said he didn't used Tamoxifen to gain any sort of edge and remarked he deeply regret his actions and apologize to teammates and the organization for his poor judgment. The camp of Calathes has indicated that there should be leniency for the Memphis Grizzlies point guard as he committed a mistake and not tried to gain an edge. However, Buchanan remarked that NBA is a collectively bargained "strict liability" system in which there is no place for that element to play a part. Buchanan added the reason (the strict liability system) is there is because it's nearly an impossible situation to, in every case, to be trying to sift through questions of a player's intent.

Rick Buchanan also remarked of course it is going to be in every player's interests in a circumstance where they get caught to say that they didn't mean it, say it was a mistake, say that it was something else, to say that they never were trying to gain an edge, or something else, and we're going to be having to assess that in every circumstance and that's really impossible. Buchanan also remarked you are responsible for what's in your body and that is the only way we can run the program in a fair way, fair across all players and all teams.

Tamoxifen is used during post cycle therapy by athletes and bodybuilders while using anabolic androgenic steroids. This drug has the ability to eliminate or reduce the severity and/or occurrence of estrogenic side effects such as gynecomastia (development of female-like breasts in men), oily skin, acne, and bloating.

Major League Baseball suspended free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd in June 2012 after he tested positive for Tamoxifen.

Ron Klempner, interim executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, has been publicly critical of the ruling. A few weeks back, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said the NBA's drug program was "not at all" difficult to beat. However, Buchanan defended the league's system. He remarked if you measure the anti-doping program by the list of substances that NBA banned, the number of times that we test (six random tests a year), the percentage of a season that you miss if you're penalized under the program, the labs we use, the processes we use, all that stuff is as good or better than the programs in the other leagues, but we've kind of been given a bit of a hard time about that.

In 2011, suspensions were increased from 10 to 20 games as part of the new collective bargaining agreement of the league. Since then, only Calathes and Hedo Turkoglu (for using Methenolone) have been suspended while nine players have been suspended for anabolic androgenic steroids or performance enhancing drugs in all.

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