There’s never been a performance-enhancing drug (PED) controversy in the National Basketball Association. That hasn’t been the case for Major League Baseball, or the National Football League, where suspensions and recriminations followed the very best players like a foul fart. Nor have elite athletes in solo sports like track and field and cycling avoided the ignominy of PED aspersions and the ensuing stripped medals and trophies. But the NBA has survived, its reputation largely unscathed. There’s some conjectural evidence drugs are a lurking leviathan for the league, and at least one high-profile figure used some suppositional logic to grouse that PEDs are more prevalent than the public knows. None of that has seemed to matter, though. These drugs are not a thing like they were with baseball and football and the sprinters and the bicyclists with calves like veiny, inverted bowling ball pins. Plus, the smattering of players who have tested positive for some form of steroid or amphetamine––Don MacLean, Matt Geiger, Soumaila Samake, Lindsey Hunter, Darius Miles, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, O.J. Mayo, and most recently Joakim Noah––is so small, the entire squad couldn’t field a full pickup game (but holy hell, what a fun 4-on-4 matchup that would be.) The NBA doesn’t have a PED problem because ”even when players do not test positive, usually there is some chatter that there is something going on.” Commissioner Adam Silver said that about PEDs in the NBA a year ago. Even if a player’s test comes back negative, there’s usually some “chatter” if they’re doping. The statement was part of an answer to a question he’d been asked about former coach George Karl, who had released an autobiography with a cute title: Furious George. In the book, Karl––curiously––went all Col. Kilgore in the morning on any future coaching gig when he personally attacked former players Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith. He also accused the NBA of “having a drug problem, though a different one than 30 years ago.” Here’s the rest, which you probably already read a year ago: "I’m talking about performance-enhancing drugs—like steroids, human growth hormone, and so on. It’s obvious some of our players are doping. How are some guys getting older—yet thinner and fitter? How are they recovering from injuries so fast? Why the hell are they going to Germany in the offseason? I doubt it’s for the sauerkraut. "More likely it’s for the newest, hard-to-detect blood boosters and PEDs they have in Europe. Unfortunately, drug testing always seems to be a couple steps behind drug hiding. Lance Armstrong never failed a drug test.” The dig at the coke days notwithstanding, it sounds well reasoned. Except, you know, without any actual evidence or details. Or—most importantly––any names. Remember, MLB and the NFL always had names—stars overfed columnists could lash into with moral outrage.
Why There’s Never Been a PED Scandal in the NBA
Complex | Jan 25