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ABC NEWS TAKES A TOUGH LOOK AT THE NBA'S DRUG POLICY
Published June 14, 1995
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).