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International anti-doping official says NBA testing has gaps

Oct 19, 2012, 8:40 AM EDT

PEDs, syringe Getty Images

It’s kind of been assumed that the NBA was a place where steroids and other performance enhancing drugs were not an issue. We picture bodybuilders and football players and the Barry Bonds of the world — guys who bulked up — as PED users. Not long, thin basketball players.

But to suggest that drugs that would help a player workout harder and recover faster wouldn’t help a basketball player is preposterous. To think that in a league where guys don’t blink about flying to Germany for special blood treatment on their knees wouldn’t consider PEDs is naïve.

That has been the thrust of a series of stories Henry Abbott has done at ESPN and TrueHoop. And if you think it can’t be done because the NBA tests guys, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency would like to have a word with you. He did with Abbott for ESPN.

“They’ve got gaps in their program, between what they do and what we suggest would be better,” David Howman said…

“They do not feel they have such an issue as the other major leagues and therefore haven’t addressed it in quite the same way,” Howman said. “I just think you’ve got to be very careful when you start saying performance-enhancing drugs are not beneficial in any sport, because you’re going to be proven wrong. And you’ll be proven wrong when you’re not expecting it.”

The NBA did not comment.

Changes to drug testing in the NBA — specifically for human growth hormone — was one of the issues sort of put to the side at the end of the lockout and the CBA negotiations (along with changing the draft age and more). It is something the league and players union would have to negotiate.

So far, finding PEDs in the NBA has not really been a serious issue. But when the motivation is the money, fame and lifestyle the NBA brings, do you really think a lot of people wouldn’t use them to make it?

  1. joshm5683 - Oct 19, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    It would be foolish to think a sport where players are getting the size of defensive ends and running like wide receivers, there aren’t any PEDs in the sport. Like mentioned, Kobe and Bynum going to Germany to get a procedure done on their knees not done currently in the US………I don’t think its probably as rampant as in sports where brute strength is a huge advantage or where your body takes a real beating. If I had to say it, I’d say in the NBA it was probably more the older athletes dealing with injuries and coming back and trying to recover for back to back games. I’m a Lakers fan but I wouldn’t be floored if it came out a guy as competitive as Kobe and always looking for an edge had taken some form of PEDs. I know it would be a great day in the world of Kobe haters and Celtics fans if that were to happen. I’d also say Dwyane Wade would be up there too, he couldn’t stay healthy in 2007 then in the 2008 Olympics hes running and jumping like he always did. Will be interesting if they do change the testing in the NBA

    • BigBeachBall - Oct 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM

      people can’t stand the possibility that basketball culture is less prone to cheating than MLB and NFL…. it bothers them… and they want to figure out a way to bring the NBA down to their steroid using level…. good luck chumps… run your tests and go away…

  2. illcomm - Oct 19, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    thank gosh you have some sense. the baseball writers on this blog don’t beloved that PED make u a better faster player.

  3. sprest83 - Oct 19, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    All I can say is duh! Everybody has been grilling MLB and NFL over the past several years about PED’s but what about the NBA? In a sport where you are constantly asked to sprint and jump the entire game, how can you maintain so much muscle mass? Why does Lebron weigh 260lbs, but can run just as fast/faster or jump just as high/higher than most? He averaged insane minutes during the playoffs and was still able to play at a high level. It isn’t just James, there are others. James is the most obvious in my opinion. Why does nobody care?

  4. educatedfools - Oct 19, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    This is classic WADA. They bad mouth any sports league that doesn’t commission them to test. They do this to drum up a media outcry until a league starts to use them and also pay them. All about the money with these people.

  5. cantonbound13 - Oct 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    PEDs are used in all sports. David Stern won’t allow his players to get caught. You can’t tell me LeBron, balding in his early 20s hasn’t used anything.

    • thomaskouns - Oct 19, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      Totally right.

      Stern was the one who said a few years ago that NBA players didn’t use steroids because they rely on athleticism.

      Total cop out on his part. Power, strength and speed are essential in the modern NBA.

  6. acharlot5 - Oct 19, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    ^^ LOL balding early doesnt always mean PEDS some guys just have bad genetics when it comes to hair. I know some guys who started balding around 18 years old

  7. genericcommenter - Oct 19, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Scott Skiles, roid freak

  8. zblott - Oct 19, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Maybe we should have paid more attention when Derrick Rose was asked what seems like a fairly straightforward question from ESPN the Magazine last year (“If 1 equals ‘What are PEDs’? and 10 equals ‘Everybody’s Juicing’…How big of an issue is illegal enhancing in your sport?”), that he answered, “Seven. It’s huge, and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person.”

    All the evidence in the world that NBA players are doping is around us – we just need to stop pretending that Stern’s “nothing to see here” attitude about this as well means there’s nothing to see.

    Consider all of the following facts:

  9. fanz928 - Oct 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Baldness is the perfect evidence

  10. adnan604 - Oct 19, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I don’t understand why people or anyone would have a problem with a professional athlete taking a substance that will allow him to recover and heal better after not just workouts, but more importantly after injuries. Forget performance enhancing, because most of these PED’s aren’t really even about making this guy jump higher or run faster, I mean at this elite level of competition it’s a very thin margin between a Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose, or this football player vs that football player, dudes are born genetically gifted bottom line.
    the REAL issue is health, and a LOT of these guys are taking needles that will help them with their injuries and other related issues, this in turn allows them to be able to go to work…. how someone could be against this is plain ignorant to me, illegal substance or not, I DO NOT CARE…. it’s why I still support Lance ArmStrong and always will.

    I mean it’s honestly mind blowing to me to think that we do NOT want our athletes to have the best chance at doing what they do for as long as they can. If PED’s can help Derrick Rose stay healthy and play an extra few years, who the eff would logically make an argument against that. It benefits ABSOLUTELY everyone involved, from the fans to the franchise and his family…. EVERYONE

    • sdelmonte - Oct 19, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Agreed. Rather than trying to use science and technology in a sane, mature fashion to assist us in every way possible, we label certain things as “cheating” but other things as perfectly acceptable. As long as PEDs are illegal, there will never be research into eliminating the side effects and risks, and creating something that will be of benefit to everyone. But the puritanical moralism of WADA, many members of Congress, and a good chunk of the general public had decided that this is Wrong.

      Within the next 50 years, there are likely to be developments that make PEDs look like placebos. Gene therapy. New safer drugs. Things that will probably change all sport forever but that will improve our lives. WADA will stand in their way, using science to block science, using “think of the children” moralism to hold back necessary research. And will fail. The future is coming. Best to be ready for it.

    • e39er - Oct 19, 2012 at 3:54 PM

      Exactly! it’s not like the PED is allowing them to score 45 points a night, if it helps them to recover quicker from injuries and allows them more playing time which equals to the masses enjoying watching their talents then i’m all for it, basketball is still a skill at the end of the day, talking drugs isn’t going to give you a 3 point shot in the 90% or allow you to dunk from the free throw line if you don’t have the natural talent.

  11. ningenito78 - Oct 20, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    BigBeachBall- why exactly would the NBA be ‘less prone’ than other leagues to using PEDs? Freaking cyclists, boxing, blah blah all have PED issues. If you think there isn’t some form of a PED issue in the NBA then how’s that sand taste?

  12. kavika6 - Oct 21, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    DWIGHT HOWARD!!!!!!!

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