SBD/14/Leagues Governing Bodies

ABC NEWS TAKES A TOUGH LOOK AT THE NBA'S DRUG POLICY

     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).
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