<
>

Team USA: Yes, We're Drug Tested

10/20/2009

A few days ago, the bullets referenced an article on drug testing that wondered aloud what would happen to a player's eligibility to play for their home league if they failed drug test while playing in the Olympics.

A TrueHoop reader responded by e-mailing a link to this wikipedia article, which says:

In 1989, FIBA, international basketball's governing body, allowed professional NBA players to participate in the Olympics for the first time. But in order for this to happen, FIBA agreed not to perform any anti-doping controls, which is still the case.

Really? Could some of the highest profile athletes be exempt from that rigorous testing regimen we have heard so much about? (If that's true, who negotiated for that? That was a major thing to ask for. Why was that important?)

I sent the excerpt above to USA Basketball spokesperson Craig Miller, who is with the team in Beijing. 

"This is not true," he writes.

"The only thing I think they mean is that originally NBA players were not subject to out-of-competition testing. I believe, since I got here in 1990, that all of our teams have been tested in competition. I believe since around 1998 we have also been subject to out-of-competition testing. We have been 100 percent fully compliant with USADA and WADA. In fact, last night [after the Greece game] we had a member of our team tested."

The United States Anti-Doping Agency has a website where you can actually look up which athletes they have tested. It shows, for instance, that Kobe Bryant has been tested in 2008. the World Anti-Doping Agency website does not, as far as I can tell, have the same kind of public database.)

I asked Miller about the out-of-competition testing. Does that mean they can show up at Kobe Bryant's house at any old time? "I'm not well versed in this," he explains, "other than knowing we are tested out of season, which means they can and do show up at practices and homes and we have to complete the required paperwork."

Miller also explains the timing of the in-competition tests: "We usually have a player or two tested randomly in the first few games, then more consistently in quarterfinals, semis, and finals. The testing is random, in that the players are determined by pulling numbers from a bag towards the end of each game." 

Anyone know how to update that Wikipedia article?