Marijuana, Steroid Testing Around Corner for NBA!

Marijuana, Steroid Testing Around Corner for NBA!
Posted by FoM on July 19, 1999 at 09:06:52 PT
By Marcus Carmouche,SportsLine Staff Writer
Source: CBS Sportsline
For the first time in league history, the NBA will begin testing its players for marijuana and steroids along with its usual list of other banned substances at the opening of training camp. 
The NBA also will finally try to put an end to the public relations nightmare it has had to endure because of the lack of marijuana screening and for once, tackle the issue head on. The NBA was the only major sport that did not test for marijuana. The NHL, NFL and Major League Baseball all test for marijuana as well as other illegal drugs. Last year, the New York Times reported that as many as 70 percent of the league's players are regular users of marijuana. A number that could make even Cheech & Chong blush. "That is just a rumor, and we all know how rumors are," said Miami forward P.J. Brown, who was among the NBA players gathered to play in Alonzo Mourning's All-Star charity game as part of Zo's Summer Groove III. "I've been rumored to have been traded and I'm still a member of the Heat. Rumors are just rumors. I don't put a lot of stock in that." THE ISSUE OF MARIJUANA testing first arose in January as part of the collective bargaining agreement during the lockout. Marijuana and steroids were added to the league's list of banned substances and the testing provisions were finalized during a meeting between the union representatives in the Bahamas on July 7. "I think it is great that we have the tests for marijuana," said players' union representative Dikembe Mutombo. "I was part of the committee that wanted this passed. All 29 team representatives voted for it. We are the ones who voted for it ... the players." But not all players agree with Mutombo's assessment. Some are indifferent. And some even refuse to talk about it, much like the NBA had done for its entire existence. "It's in a player's contract so we have to do it," Orlando's Nick Anderson said. "If the league wants it ... we have to abide by the rules." "I AIN'T TALKING 'BOUT THAT," Stephon Marbury said. "I'm just here to help out Zo," Patrick Ewing said. "I'm not taking questions about the test." In the past couple of years, players appearing on police reports for arrests involving marijuana have been a common occurrence. Mookie Blaylock, Vernon Maxwell, Cliff Robinson, Allen Iverson and Isaiah Rider have all been arrested for possession of marijuana and/or having marijuana residue on their property. The Consequences  Marijuana Steroids 1st positive test mandatory counseling 5-game suspension 2nd positive test $15,000 fine 10-game suspension 3rd positive test 5-game suspension 25-game suspension  Chris Webber was arrested twice in 1998 alone for possession. In January, police found a marijuana cigarette in the ashtray of Webber's vehicle after he was stopped for a traffic violation on his way to practice while a member of the Washington Wizards. Seven months later in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during a promotional tour for Fila, Webber admitted to owning a bag in which customs agents found 11 grams of the illegal drug. MARIJUANA IN THE NBA has been a prevalent issue since the hippie days of Bill Walton in the 1970s. Walton followed the Grateful Dead during his playing days and smoking pot was a rite of passage for becoming a Deadhead. And though the use of marijuana is said to have curbed since that time, it's an issue that is finally being addressed -- although more than two decades later. Steroids, on the other hand, aren't as common in a game designed for finesse as opposed to raw power. According to the collective bargaining agreement, veterans will be tested once (in October) for drugs. Rookies will have to undergo four random tests during the season. Depending on frequency of use, marijuana can stay in a person's system anywhere from two weeks to three months. So what's to stop a veteran who smokes pot from cleaning up for the lone test at training camp, then resuming his regular routine? "It's only one test," second-year Vancouver point guard Mike Bibby said. "They're only testing us once, so it's like they're really not testing us. I don't smoke (marijuana) so it doesn't bother me. But I do agree with the league trying to do something about it." "I just hope they don't get caught," said Sacramento's Jason Williams, who was kicked off the team at the University of Florida for twice failing marijuana tests. "It doesn't bother me that we have the (marijuana) test. I just hope guys realize that the test is coming and get themselves cleaned up for it if they are doing it." Contrary to Charles Barkley's "I'm not a role model" proclamation in a television commercial, NBA players are looked up to and admired. Just take a look at fans packing the Miami Arena on Sunday with pen and paper and camera in hand hoping to get a memento from their favorite players. The NBA is doing the right thing by testing for marijuana, but now it must prepare for the face-first fall that will accompany positive drug tests -- assuming the large number of players allegedly smoking marijuana are correct. Nonetheless it is a step in the right direction. "I'm all for a drug-free league," Brown said. "It'll be beneficial. We are in the limelight and this can be another way of sending a good message. I haven't heard one negative thing from a player about the testing. "In fact, I'd be shocked if one test came back positive." Brace yourself P.J. Pubdate: July 18, 1999Copyrightę 1999 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved.CBS "eye device" is a registered trademark of CBS Inc. 
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