Failed Drug Tests Aren’t Only Teeth In NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program

Like the folks who run Major League Baseball, the NBA believes it has a strong, modern, effective anti-drug program.

Like MLB, the NBA has worked with its players association and consulted with top authorities in the field to build an exhaustive and ever-evolving list of banned substances, from marijuana to drugs of abuse to the more topical, integrity-challenging steroids, performance-enhancers and masking agents.

So with MLB embroiled in recent weeks in the investigation of and penalties to 14 players snared in that sport’s latest doping scandal – without any indication that even one of those players failed a drug test – the question for the NBA or any other league seemed obvious: How good can an anti-drug program really be if admitted violators aren’t testing positive?

The answer from NBA HQ: Pretty good, because its anti-drug program goes beyond testing.

In baseball’s probe of the Biogenesis clinic in south Florida, it took leaked documents, statements from lab founder Anthony Bosch and an associate, other sources of information and an article in the Miami New Times, an alternative news publication, to snare the PED users.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game ban on July 22. Twelve major leaguers already have acknowledged their involvement and begun suspensions of 50 games each, while Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game suspension.

The names of athletes from other sports supposedly turned up in the investigation, and NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said that he, chief compliance officer Rick Buchanan and other league executives were not aware of the involvement with Biogenesis of any NBA players.

None wanted to comment specifically on the MLB cases or their ramifications for the NBA. But the league’s anti-drug program has provisions that don’t require a failed test to intitiate the discipline process. Beyond the six random, unannounced tests during each season and offseason to which each player is subject, tests can be administered based on reasonable cause at any time.

Also, the policy allows for evidence coming from outside sources, such as Biogenesis’ trail of texts and electronic messages. A summary of the NBA’s program includes the following:

If the NBA obtains evidence of a player’s use, possession or distribution of a Prohibited Substance, it can take that evidence to a neutral arbitrator. If the arbitrator finds that the player has used or possessed a Drug of Abuse, or has distributed any Prohibited Substance, he will be dismissed and disqualified from the NBA. If the arbitrator finds that the player has used or possessed Marijuana or a SPED, such a finding is considered a violation under the Program and the player will be subject to the same penalties imposed for a positive drug test.

Silver also repeated to the New York Post last week what he and commissioner David Stern talked about after the Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas last month: The NBA is looking to implement testing for human growth hormone (HGH), in addition to the urine testing that’s conducted for approximately 160 prohibited substances on its current list. HGH is on that list and NBA players who participate in international and Olympic competition have undergone the blood testing it requires, but that provision is not yet contained in the league’s anti-drug policy.

Negotiating for that with the National Basketball Players Association – the anti-drug program is “jointly maintained and administered” by the NBA and the union – currently is on hold while the NBPA attends to other business. A new president to succeed Derek Fisher in the top agenda item at the the NBPA summer meeting Wednesday in Las Vegas, and the search for a new executive director to replace Billy Hunter could last through the end of 2013.

Some might consider it luck, and a statement on the early types of steroids and their effects, that the culture of PEDs has not taken hold in the NBA as it has in some other sports.

Now at least – much as MLB has seen in the wake of its latest scandal – the NBA is optimistic that the majority of its players see them as cheating and want to deter their use.


  1. Tom says:

    What a puff piece.

    The reason the “culture of PEDs hasn’t taken hold” is more to do with the outdated, pathetic testing the NBA employs. And additionally, a very suspect “star-laden” landscape which suggests that the league either doesn’t want to know or doesn’t want us to know. The physical transformations in body type alone from the NBA 30 years ago are simply not believable. “Training” has improved, yes, but we’re talking about leaps forward that do not jive with human evolution. And besides, it’s no longer just about “muscles.” Lance Armstrong, anyone?

    For anyone to think that this league has somehow escaped the modern epidemic of steroids and other performance enhancers while nearly every other has had issues with it is simply putting one’s head into deep and obvious sand.

    Anyone with a little time and Google can see that the amount of people out there who believe that many NBA players are on steroids is ever growing. The NBA will have to face this issue, eventually, The longer they prolong what is likely to be a façade and pretend it’s a problem of”other leagues,” the more idiotic they will look for not attempting to get a handle on it.

  2. Whiz says:

    why wouldn’t ped use be in the NBA its NFL, MLB why not in basketball it help you run faster stamina strength why not.

    • its a little something called cheating says:

      really??? obvious we don’t want cheaters and its a team sport just like any so why not win it by genuine athleticism, determination, endurance. This is what saddens me in the sports world, all of these players with talent get to caught up on their own steam. It’s a Team effort so why not build a core with your teammates even if your in that team for less than a year. That one opportunity even if its small would have me going hard as if I am going to win that ring.

  3. Bird33 says:

    Dear Dr. Greenfarb (Joshua),

    I was very interested in hearing that PEDs are gateway drugs to Cocaine and Crystal Meth. Can you please enlightening us all with a reference to the research you used to make this statement? My extensive research on this topic has failed to produce the ground breaking article that supports this insidious connection.

    Dr. J

  4. wil44 says:

    lebron is on steroids for sure.

  5. Tyler says:

    Leave Michael Beasley alone! Damn!

    • Neil Young says:

      Sorry man, this dude is a trainwreck. As a Timberwolves fan, I watched him rapping to himself on the court during a game in which he walked down to the other end of the floor about 70 percent of the time not paying attention. Good luck with that moron.

  6. Peter says:

    the neverending battle of drugs in sports. I dont see how marijuana is still illegal…100% agree with the effects of alcohol on the body being WAY WORSE than that of weed. PLUS if you really look at it…if the guy is smoking or drinking AND still performs great….dang, thats a good specimen if you ask me hahahaha. But PED shud be banned…OR allowed for everyone willing to take em….thats weird cuz EVERYONE can technically get them. for god’s sakes most of this stuff is available in some shape or form at GNC stores.

  7. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    It’s good that MLB is being so strict about this — not just for fairness of the game but also because drugs and alcohol are extremely bad/dangerous. These light PEDs could be a gateway to the most extreme drugs like cocaine and crystal blue methamphetamine.

    I don’t understand why A-ROD would use PEDs anyway. The guy is a future hall-of-famer and can put up great numbers without the need for PEDs or steroids. A-Rod doesn’t need PEDs. Don’t tell me he is addicted to PEDs.

  8. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    I heard Kobe Bryant is recovering quickly from major injury. How is that possible? It’s only been a few months. I thought it was going to take at least a year to fully recover.

    What kind of PEDs is Bryant using?

    I think we know MLB is more strict than NBA, anyway. If the Lakers didn’t get in trouble for cheating their way into last season’s playoffs, I seriously doubt they’re going to investigate or “drug test” Kobe Bryant.

  9. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    If A-Rod and K. Bryant are friends, uh oh…

    Kobe Bryant better “tread lightly.” 🙂

    Of course this isn’t going to happen, right? But the media would have a field day, if Alex Rodriguez “dimes” on Kobe Bryant to work out a deal with MLB. To reduce his MLB suspension.

    “Tell us who your supplier is!”

    “Ask Kobe Bryant!”

  10. Dean says:

    I heard that the NBA would stop testing for THC in the offseason, I think we all know by now alcohol is much more harmful to your body. I think during the regular season it should be banned, but offseason who cares? Michael Phelps proved to the world that marijuana makes winning impossible…oh wait nevermind.

  11. n00bs says:

    So they can drink alcohol but not smoke weed….

    Its time that people learn that alcohol is way worse of a drug then THC learn the real facts for once.

    • Andy says:

      Weed is illegal, alcohol is not. Alcohol does not enhance performance so why shouldn’t they be able to drink it? As long as the player is older than 21 there is no reason to outlaw it. Everyone knows it’s bad for you, and you seem to think that THC isn’t.

  12. well says:

    at least sheed already retired so he won’t have to get busted for weed lol

  13. SupaHotFire says:

    this is crazy