Recent rash of NBA suspensions for drug use raises concern

With the third suspension of an NBA player for drug use, it calls into question why this is suddenly an issue.

Thinking back to the early 2000s when Major League Baseball was in the news with an increase in Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) use or steroid-gate if you will. That dark period in MLB is immediately what popped to the front of mind with the NBA announcing John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks has been suspended for 25 games for illegal drug use.

This is the third such suspension of 25 games this season. Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler was the first to get hit. Chandler like the others was suspended 25 games for using Ipamorelin (increases the release of growth hormone).

Likewise, a game into the season Phoenix Suns sophomore Deandre Ayton was suspended 25 games. In Ayton’s case, the NBA suspended him for using diuretics which are often consumed to purge PEDs from the bloodstream.

Collins as per ESPN was using a Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2.

Collins, in his third season with the team, tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2), the league said.

The Hawks big man says he’ll appeal but I can’t imagine how someone could feign ignorance over ingesting a growth hormone. Collins’ excuse was he took a supplement unaware of the contents.

Well, sorry John but that’s why you have an entire team of coaches and development staff – so they can check these products out to ensure they comply with what is acceptable.  The Hawks Head Coach Lloyd Pierce certainly understands this is the case as per his quote in the same ESPN article:

“Of course it’s disturbing, that this is something you hope you can prevent, and we hope we can educate him on that, but he made a decision, or someone made a decision and somehow we got to this point,” Pierce said. “It’s our job to get to the information, to keep all our guys from making this decision or being in this position again, but it hurts our team.”

One suspension is the result of one bad egg – or a mistake, two suspensions ignite the kindling under the logs. But, three suspensions in less than a month and we’re talking a full-fledged fire.

The question is why this is suddenly happening on an escalated scale. Has it been happening all along and the NBA just suddenly became more diligent in their testing or lucky in the choices of who is being tested (and when)? Or is this a product of the game becoming far more physical and athletic and players feeling the only way to keep pace with their peers is through illegal drug use?

During his tenure, Adam Silver has been fortunate without many critical public relations issues. At the start of his tenure, he had to address the nightmare ownership of Donald Sterling with the Clippers. But, if we’re honest that was a no brainer– the only real issue in that circumstance is why Silver’s predecessor (David Stern) hadn’t ousted him years prior.

Everyone now knows this was not a well kept secret of who and what that man was.  Silver also adeptly worked with the Players Association to expedite a new contract – but again, was this really that onerous of a situation given both sides were well aware TV sponsorship dollars made the negotiations less strident than normal negotiations.

Flash forward to this season and Silver is dealing with what happened overseas and Daryl Morey’s tweet which created that situation. The fallout from that will be felt possibly for years to come as already millions are being lost in sponsorship revenue and the scuttlebutt is the salary cap will be affected adversely in the coming years.

Add in this recent rash of players testing positive for drug use and it’s the most trying period and situations of Silver’s reign.

For every team in the Association, this is the warning blast over the bow of the boat. The OKC Thunder hasn’t been involved, but it would behoove them to pull in every one of the players to discuss the situation and how important it is that ANYTHING they put into their bodies needs to be checked first with the team coaches and staff to ensure they aren’t taking an illegal drug.

Moving forward, hopefully, this is the last suspension and the fact a trio of players has been punished will hopefully be the warning every player and team requires.

Next: The official OKC Thunder Big board 1.0

If you’re the suspicious sort who believes everything happens in threes then Collins would be that third. As for Silver, this might mean there is one more public relations nightmare still to come.  Let’s hope not because the NBA was at an all-time high in popularity and another scandal or ‘situation’ is the last thing the league needs.

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