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Hornets' Al Jefferson gets 5-game ban for violating anti-drug program

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Hornets will be without center Al Jefferson for an additional five games once he returns from a leg injury, after Jefferson was suspended without pay for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug program.

Jefferson is out with a strained left calf and can't begin serving the five-game suspension until he's healthy, the league announced Wednesday.

Team officials said on Nov. 30 that Jefferson would miss two to three weeks with the injury, so it is unclear when Jefferson will be eligible to return to action.

"I just feel so low right now for every little boy and every little girl who looks at me as somebody they look up to," Jefferson said an hour before the Hornets hosted Miami. "For me to make mistakes like this, it's not cool. It's not cool for them, and it's not cool for me. That kills me more than anything."

The Hornets released a statement saying they're "disappointed in Al's decisions that led to this suspension. As an organization, we do not condone this behavior."

The banned substance Jefferson used has not been disclosed. When a reporter asked Jefferson if the substance was marijuana, he declined to answer.

"I failed a drug test," he said.

The team said it has addressed the situation with Jefferson and that he's "regretful and understands that we expect him to learn from this mistake."

Jefferson released a statement through the team apologizing to the organization, owner Michael Jordan, his teammates and fans for what he called a "poor decision."

Jefferson, who said he lost 25 pounds this offseason, was averaging 13.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season for the Hornets, below his career averages of 16.9 points and nine rebounds per game. Jefferson said he first learned of the positive drug test "about two weeks ago."

He is in the final season of a three-year contract.