Sunday, February 17, 2013
David Stern on NBA anti-doping
By Henry Abbott
In an All-Star Weekend press conference, David Stern addressed the league's testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
It's a program that looks increasingly inadequate now that we know more than ever about the methods athletes like Lance Armstrong used to evade testers. Major League Baseball already has an agreement in place with their union to add much more rigorous testing, including the invasive-but-effective biological passport.
Without indicating he felt there was anything wrong with the NBA's current system, Stern left the door wide open to change, with a particular prediction about human growth hormone testing next season:
Well, I would say that we have a comprehensive drug testing program that has a long list, probably a hundred or so, I'm not even sure the number, of drugs that are prohibited, including HGH, subject to an agreement of the validity of an appropriate testing protocol.
And we expect that to happen, we really do, before the start of next season.
With respect to the biological passport, I think the blood test is the precursor to the biological passport. And that's a subject for discussion with the Players' Association.
And let me say, our players have been front and center with us on this one. They want to be and be perceived as playing in a drug-free sport. We have six unannounced tests a year. Two of those are authorized out of season. And we have an independent group of experts that adds drugs to the list of prescribed drugs. And we test in a way that the samples get sent to an approved lab and we're there.
There will always be some kind of leap frogging there, as there was in 1983 which we were the first league to have an anti-drug program and dealt with a variety of things. So it's always subject to be improved. But together with our Players' Association, which I think has taken a leadership role here, I'm sure will continue to improve it.