In the history of the NBA, no more than two players have tested positive for PEDs in a single season. It’s November 6th, and we already have three. Wilson Chandler tested positive for Ipamorelin in August, DeAndre Ayton was recently suspended for a diuretic, and now John Collins tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, players can be randomly tested up to four times during the season (twice for HGH) and twice during the offseason (once for HGH), per Larry Coon’s FAQ. The league can’t conduct more than 1,525 tests in a year or 600 during an offseason. Players can also be tested for “reasonable cause” up to four times in a six-week period.
Out of all professional sports, the NBA has had the smallest number of players tested positive for banned substances (performance-enhancing stuff) – 13. Do these recent positives mean players are doping more, or are they just getting caught?
In 2011 Derrick Rose gave an interview to ESPN The Magazine. He was asked: “If 1 equals ‘What are PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs)’? and 10 equals ‘Everybody’s Juicing’ … How big of an issue is illegal enhancing in your sport?” (via ESPN):
“Seven. It’s huge, and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person.”
Rose would later deny the quote and say he doesn’t remember ever being asked or answering the question. In the same denial, he said he probably misunderstood the question. Enough said.
He isn’t the only significant NBA personality that spoke up about this. One of the reasons George Karl doesn’t get as much love in NBA circles is this quote from his book Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection (via NBC Sports):
“We’ve got a more thorough drug-testing program than the NFL or MLB, which we always brag about. But we’ve still got a drug issue, though a different one than thirty years ago. And this one bothers me more than the dumbasses who got in trouble with recreational drugs.
I’m talking about performance-enhancing drugs—like steroids, human growth hormone, and so on. It’s obvious some of our players are doping. How are some guys getting older—yet thinner and fitter? How are they recovering from injuries so fast? Why the hell are they going to Germany in the off-season? I doubt it’s for the sauerkraut.
More likely it’s for the newest, hard-to-detect blood boosters and PEDs they have in Europe. Unfortunately, drug testing always seems to be a couple steps behind drug hiding. Lance Armstrong never failed a drug test. I think we want the best athletes to succeed, not the biggest, richest cheaters employing the best scientists. But I don’t know what to do about it.”
Former players have said that 4 tests a year are easily manipulated and nowhere near to present real control and oversight. I don’t have a problem with players using PEDs in recovery or to make it through the 82 game season. Some may.
As I see it, the NBA has two choices: either keep them banned and implement a serious testing and control system or stop the charade and let players use PEDs.