The NBA resumed testing its players and coaches for drug use yesterday after representatives from the league and its players' union met to discuss leaks of test results, according to the Associated Press.
Some players who had not been administered league-required drug tests discussed boycotting the tests after they learned last week that some players' positive results were disclosed to a member of the media, according to a player who asked not to be identified.
The NBA suspended the testing of players and coaches last week after officials from the players union complained to the NBA about the leaks, citing a breach of confidentiality. The drug tests began three weeks ago, and 24 of the 29 teams have been tested. The Washington Wizards were not.
All players and coaches are expected to be tested by the end of next week.
The New York Times first reported the suspension of the drug tests in Wednesday's editions. Wizards forward Juwan Howard, a member of the players' union's executive committee, yesterday confirmed the drug tests were suspended. He was not aware testing was set to resume.
The NBA and the players' association declined to comment. Employees with the NBA and the players' association have been told not to discuss the matter with the media since the origin of the leaks is unknown, sources with the NBA and players association said.
Two sources with knowledge of the supposed positive results disclosed the information to the Times, according to the article.
"This is very disturbing," Howard said. "There was a stipulation in the collective bargaining agreement regarding confidentiality concerning a player having tested positive for any of the substances stated by the league and the union," Howard said. "Both parties cannot leak any information to anybody because of a confidentiality clause."
The Times reported that roughly six of the approximately 120 players that had been tested during training camp tested positive for marijuana. This is the first time players and coaches have been tested for marijuana.
Players and coaches are tested once during training camp. First-year players can be tested randomly up to three times during the season. Veteran players can be tested during the season only if it is determined there is reasonable cause.
The new collective bargaining agreement calls for all players and coaches to be tested during training camp for cocaine, opiates, PCP, heroin, amphetamines, LSD and marijuana.
Veteran players can be banned from the league for two years and first-year players for one year for a one-time positive test for every substance except for marijuana and steroids. Players can seek help voluntarily once through the NBA or the players union without facing punishment.
The first positive test for marijuana requires the player to enter a 15-day treatment program. A second offense would result in further treatment and a $15,000 fine. Players can continue playing while in treatment--a measure designed to protect confidentiality.
A third offense would result in more treatment and a five-game suspension.
A select few members of the league and the union, as well as the player, are supposed to be the only people aware of a positive marijuana test until a third offense, the source said. Not even the teams are to be alerted.
"There's no way you can keep it a secret," Wizards Coach Gar Heard said. "At some point it's going to leak out. Everybody has their sources. . . . The best thing to do is not test positive."
The first positive test for steroids results in a five-game suspension with the guilty party having to receive treatment. The second positive test requires re-entry into treatment and a 10-game suspension. Subsequent offenses call for a 25-game suspension and re-entry into a treatment program.
Although not the sole reason, one reason players finally agreed to allow testing for marijuana after years of refusing was the assurance of confidentiality, a source said.
"This is the league's business and the union's business," Howard said. "Now the public and the media have become involved. The league and the union better put a stop to this. Hopefully, this doesn't happen again."