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On ABC "World News Tonight," Armen Keteyian reported on the NBA's drug policy and its many "loopholes." Keteyian, on the policy which the league "touts as the toughest in sport": "Drug experts say, while the NBA policy seems strict on paper, it hasn't worked out that way. ... It doesn't test enough people, it doesn't test for all the right drugs, and it doesn't encourage athletes to come forward voluntarily." Dr. Arnold Washton, who treated NBA drug offender Michael Ray Richardson in the '80s: "The policy looks to me to be more for the protection of the league's image than it is for the protection of players' health." Peter Bensinger, former Dir of the DEA: "I think the NBA is putting its head in the sand saying 'We don't want to hear the bad news.'" A PLAYERS' VIEW -- Former Suns Guard Richard Dumas, one of two players suspended since '90: "I think a lot of people just keep it under their hat and just pray everytime that they don't have to take a urinalysis." Dumas says the league's policy keeps players from coming forward: "I do feel like I was branded. I think that keeps a lot of people from stepping up, knowing that if you do come forward that it may cost you your job." WHAT IS NEEDED -- MLB Drug Adviser Robert Millman: "It's critical in any sort of a drug policy, if you expect anyone to ever come forward, to give them a free pass. They've got to feel as if they can come forward with a problem and not be penalized or punished." Washton argued that the league's failure to test veterans is a large flaw: "One might argue that it should be the opposite, because as players get on in their experience, become more famous and become wealthier, and get inducted into a lifestyle. You could argue that their chances of getting involved in drugs go up, not down." TEST NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL -- Bensinger, on the league's exclusion of testing for marijuana: "If you exclude marijuana, which is the most widely used illegal drug, five times more often used than cocaine, your not going to get as many positives." Keteyian reported that according to National Institute of Drug Abuse, drug use among males age 19-32 averages 17% nationally. The NBA's ratio for known positive drug tests is "about one percent." Keteyian said that NBA Commissioner David Stern would not comment on the report, because of negotiations over a new CBA. Keteyian: "Negotiations from which a new NBA drug policy is almost certain to emerge" (ABC, 6/13).
Representatives of the NBA and its players union met for 10 hours in New York yesterday "as the first work stoppage in league history loomed, possibly less than 24 hours away," according to Mark Asher in this morning's WASHINGTON POST. The sides ended yesterday's talks without an agreement, and a source "with ties to the players" said that if the Finals end tonight, "it's unlikely an agreement will have been reached." The source did say that a lockout could be averted by extending the no-free agent signing, no-renegotiation moratorium that went along with the no-strike, no-lockout deal for this season. NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine said the talks will resume today. NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik and two attorneys will represent the league, as Commissioner David Stern has traveled to Houston for Game 4. The NBA dispute mainly concerns how the league's revenues will be divided. As one team exec said: "Thank God this one's over splitting the money, not ideology" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/14). In Orlando, Tim Povtak reports that the two sides "inched closer" to an agreement yesterday and that Granik and Gourdine have scheduled meetings for this morning to report any progress to their respective constituents. Magic Player Rep Donald Royal, on reports that a lockout would commence immediately after the Finals: "I think that really got everyone's attention" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/14). The N.Y. TIMES lists three ways the negotiations will end, according to several league officials: 1) A summer lockout; 2) An extension of the signing moratorium -- if there is progress; and 3) An agreement will be reached this week -- "but that possibility seemed highly unlikely" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/14). WHY US, WHY NOW? NBC's Bob Costas, on the timing of letting the possible lockout "come to light" before the Finals are over: "Maybe the thinking is to not let this go to brinksmanship -- to bring the issue to a head in the offseason, rather than when the clock begins ticking like crazy" (USA TODAY, 6/14). On ESPN's "Up Close," Lakers Exec VP of Basketball Ops Jerry West would not comment on the labor situation, nor answer whether the league has threatened teams with a "gag order." West: "The league as a whole is prospering beautifully, and I think that if any of us -- players, management -- if we would do anything to inhibit this almost cult following that we have in the NBA today, we wouldn't be very far sighted" (ESPN, 6/13).
"A lackluster and underfunded promotional campaign handled by U.S. Soccer" made it difficult to produce a crowd larger than the 22,578 who turned out for the U.S./Nigeria U.S. Cup game on Sunday, according to Gus Martins in the BOSTON HERALD. Foxboro Stadium Manager Brian O'Donovan thought the "spirit" of the crowd made up for the low attendance. O'Donovan: "It wasn't a disaster, but it was a little disappointing" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/13). O'Donovan also commented in the BOSTON GLOBE that these type of events require a "buzz at the grassroots level" to make them successful and he is optimistic MLS will have that kind of attention (Frank Dell'Apa, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/13). But in Philadelphia, Bob Ford writes that MLS will suffer by starting its season "in the deep shadow cast" by the '96 Olympic Games (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/11).