NBA Resumes Drug Testing After Six-Day Hiatus 

NBA Resumes Drug Testing After Six-Day Hiatus 
Posted by FoM on October 20, 1999 at 15:43:52 PT
By Chris Sheridan, AP Basketball Writer
Source: SF Gate
The NBA resumed testing its players for marijuana use Wednesday after the league and union met to discuss a breach of the confidentiality agreement. 
The identities of two players who tested positive for marijuana were disclosed to The New York Times, although the newspaper did not name them in a report disclosing that testing had been suspended. Only a handful of the league's 29 teams have not yet been tested, a process that should be completed by early next week. This is the first season in which players are being tested for marijuana and steroids. Veterans can only be tested once, unless they produce a positive sample. Rookies are tested throughout the season. ``The entire process is confidential by mutual agreement and it needs to remain that way in order to work,'' league spokesman Chris Brienza said. ``So we will not be commenting on reports that surface or day-to-day operations of the program.'' Billy Hunter, director of the players union, said the confidentiality agreement precluded him from discussing the six-day hiatus in testing. It was clear, however, that the disclosure of the identities of two players who tested positive had caused trouble between the union and the league. The information is considered highly sensitive, and both sides were suspicious that the other had leaked the names. Even the players themselves did not know they had tested positive until a reporter from The Times alerted them. The drug agreement says players who test positive will not be told so until all the testing is completed. The Times report also said that six players had tested positive for marijuana during the first week of testing, which began in early October. Teams are not notified in advance of the date of their tests, and players have typically arrived at practice to find representatives from the league and union waiting for them to produce urine samples. ``The press asked for it, the commissioner asked for it, we used it during the (collective) bargaining session to get something we wanted,'' union president Patrick Ewing said recently. ``We gave it up, that's it. No sense crying about it.'' The drug agreement, technically separate from the league's labor agreement, also calls for drug testing of such personnel as trainers, coaches and assistants. Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Russ Granik also were tested, Brienza said. The union sent a latter to all players in September urging anyone who smoked marijuana to come forward and seek treatment if they feared they would produce a dirty sample. A first-time offender must undergo mandatory counseling, and a second positive test would include a $15,000 fine, and any subsequent positive tests would result in five-game suspensions. ``They let us know about it, so it shouldn't be a problem,'' Knicks forward John Wallace said. ``It's just a matter of doing what you've got to do to make sure that when the time comes you're right.'' Teammate Allan Houston welcomed the policy, saying it seemed overdue. ``I'm just disappointed that it (marijuana) is treated so lightly in general, not just in our league,'' Houston said. ``That's the problem, it's not a problem of testing. You'd think it wouldn't be a problem because we are professional athletes, but the problem is that it's glorified in some areas of our culture. ``I remember when I was in high school, I looked at that as crack. But now, it's like a cigarette. and I think that's why it has become what it is in our league,'' Houston said. Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Related Articles:Report: NBA Suspends Drug Testing - 10/20/99
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