The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a comprehensive drug testing program that is designed to deter and detect the use of performance-enhancing and recreational drugs among its players. The NBA’s drug testing program is governed by the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).
The Anti-Drug Agreement in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between NBA and NBPA since 1983 specifies that NBA players are tested four times per season. Once during training camp (pre-season), twice during the regular season, and once after the final game of the NBA.
Drug testing in NBA began back in 1983 when NBA players were being accused of using drugs by the media.
Under the NBA’s drug testing policy, all players are subject to random drug testing throughout the season and during the offseason. The league uses a combination of urine and blood tests to screen for a variety of substances, including anabolic steroids, diuretics, and masking agents. In addition, the league also tests for recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.
If a player tests positive for a banned substance, they will be subject to a range of penalties depending on the substance involved and whether it was a first-time or repeat offense. Penalties can include fines, suspensions, and mandatory participation in a substance abuse program. The NBA’s drug testing program is designed to promote fair play and protect the health and safety of its players.
It’s no surprise that NBA players get drug tested in the NBA. Since there has been a history of players testing positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs! If you’re curious about what substance can lead to failed tests. Or how they pick up NBA Players, then keep reading below.
We’ll cover all your questions on why do NBA players get drug tested? When did this start happening? How often does this happen? What exactly are they testing for when it comes to banned substances? Are refs included as well!? Read more now!
What do NBA Players Get Drug Tested For?
NBA players get drug tested for NBA-banned substances. NBA has a list of NBA-banned performance-enhancing drugs that are prohibited for use by any NBA player, coach, or trainer. Some examples of these substances include anabolic steroids (AAS), stimulants like amphetamine and its derivatives, designer agents.
Such as diuretics and peptide hormones, masking agents to hide the presence of other doping substances in urine samples, antiestrogens. Which prevent testosterone from being produced naturally in the body after steroid use, etc
How Often Are NBA Players Drug Tested?
Players are subject to random drug testing both during the regular season and the offseason under the NBA‘s drug testing policy. Players are unable to predict when they could be tested because the frequency of drug tests might fluctuate and is not made public.
Each player must, however, undergo testing at least four times during the regular season and once during the summer, per league regulations.
The league has the option to test players at random, based on reasonable cause, or as part of its yearly physical. The NBA’s drug testing program is thought to be among the most thorough in professional sports and is intended to encourage fair play and safeguard the players’ health and safety.
NBA Players Can Be Drug Tested All-Year Round
Players that take part in FIBA-sanctioned games, including international competitions like the Olympics, World Cup, and continental championships, are subject to drug testing. The Global Anti-Doping Code, which outlines the global standards for testing, sanctions, and other aspects of anti-doping programs, serves as the foundation for FIBA’s anti-doping program.
Anabolic steroids, diuretics, and masking agents are just a few of the chemicals that FIBA screens for using a combination of urine and blood testing.
Players who test positive for a substance that is prohibited may be subject to penalties, such as fines, suspensions, and exclusion from competition. The goal of FIBA’s anti-doping program is to uphold fair play while safeguarding the health and welfare of basketball players around the world.
As per the International anti-doping agencies, it becomes mandatory for all elite sports athletes who wish to participate in these sporting events must comply with WADA rules & regulations if they want to be allowed to play at that level of competition!
NBA players can also be drug tested while traveling with their NBA teams. Or when visiting the NBA office in New York City during the off-season period. There is not much information out there about how often they’re picked up for testing.
But we do know that it’s done randomly without any notice given beforehand. So you never really know when you might have to take a test!
Are NBA Referees Drug Tested as Well?
All NBA/WNBA referees must go through the certification process every year. And they cannot officiate games unless they pass required tests which include anti-doping tests as well!
Yes, NBA referees are subject to the same drug testing policy as the players under the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the National Basketball Referees Association
The NBA’s drug testing policy is designed to promote fair play and protect the health and safety of all participants, including referees, players, and coaches.
What Happens if an NBA Player Fails a Drug Test?
NBA players who fail NBA drug tests are automatically disqualified from participating in FIBA competition. NBA players who fail NBA drug tests are also suspended from NBA for a certain number of games. Depending on how many times they have failed the NBA drug test.
Depending on the substance tested positive for and whether it was a first-time or repeat offense, an NBA player who refuses a drug test may be subject to a variety of sanctions. The league’s collective bargaining agreement with the National Basketball Players Association governs its drug testing policy.
The player usually has to enroll in a substance addiction program and might be fined up to $25,000 for a first conviction involving a “drug of abuse,” like cocaine or marijuana. A fine of up to $50,000 and a 10-game suspension are possible consequences of a second infraction. The player faces a minimum two-year suspension for a third infraction.
Anabolic steroids are an example of a performance-enhancing drug that can result in a first violation that carries a 25-game suspension and a fine of up to $25,000. A second infraction carries a fine of up to $50,000 and a suspension of up to 55 games. The player faces a minimum two-year suspension for a third infraction.
Depending on the situation, the NBA may also publicly release the identities of players who test positive for drugs.
The Process of Drug Testing in the NBA (as part of the Anti-Doping Program)
NBA uses a standard steroid testing procedure that will be followed by any NBA representative at any time without warning and those representatives include NBA referees, coaches, trainers, or even players themselves if they’re chosen to represent their teams during random checks.
In addition to this, there is an advanced laboratory doping control program. That helps make sure all samples collected from various locations throughout the world get properly tested with the latest technology available.
The NBA’s drug testing process involves several steps. First, players are randomly selected for testing throughout the season and during the offseason. The league uses a computerized program to select players for testing, and the frequency of testing can vary from player to player.
Once a player is selected for testing, they are required to provide a urine sample under observation from a drug testing officer. The sample is then sent to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory for analysis. The laboratory tests the sample for a wide range of prohibited substances, including anabolic steroids, diuretics, and masking agents.
In addition to urine testing, the NBA can also test players using blood samples to screen for human growth hormone (HGH). Blood samples are collected by a certified phlebotomist and are also sent to a WADA-accredited laboratory for analysis.
So results can be known accurately & quickly about whether a player’s sample contains a prohibited substance or not!! NBA has an NBA-WADA agreement. Which ensures NBA players are regularly monitored by the NBA and WNBA as part of the anti-doping program.
What Drugs Are NBA Players Tested For?
As previously mentioned NBA-WADA agreement ensures NBA players are regularly monitored by NBA and WNBA. As part of the anti-doping program. Any NBA player that is selected to participate in an NBA event must comply with NBA anti-doping rules.
Or that NBA player will be disqualified from participating in any professional league such as NBA, WNBA, etc.
All banned substances including performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids (AAS). Stimulants like amphetamine and its derivatives. Designer agents such as diuretics and peptide hormones, etc. are prohibited for use by any NBA player. Throughout their career without exception!!
Some of the drugs that are tested for include:
- Anabolic steroids, including testosterone and its derivatives
- Human growth hormone (HGH)
- Diuretics and other masking agents
- Stimulants, such as amphetamines and cocaine
- Opioids and other pain medications
There is a list of all the banned substances on the official website. Which includes more than 100+ different kinds of products & methods! It’s not just about what kind of drug we’re testing NBA players for.
But the NBA drug test also tests players’ blood and urine samples to ensure they don’t have any vascular/heart issues. Which may be a result of the use of certain drugs!
Cannabinoids and Marijuana Acceptance
In order to restart the season, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) agreed to postpone marijuana testing for players during the COVID-19 epidemic in June 2020. This choice was made to put player health and safety first and to reduce the chance of contracting the virus.
The suspension of marijuana testing was initially intended to be temporary, but in December 2020, the NBA and NBPA announced that marijuana testing would not be conducted during the 2020-2021 season.
Just recently, as reported by Shams Charania of @TheAthletic, NBA players will no longer be prohibited for marijuana under the new seven-year Collective Bargaining Agreement starting next 2023-2024 NBA season. It’s been removed from the anti-drug testing program, a process that began during 2019-20 season.
This decision was based on the growing societal acceptance of marijuana use and the belief that it is no longer a performance-enhancing drug.
Has an NBA Player Ever Failed a Drug Test?
There have been NBA players who failed NBA drug tests in the past.
For example, During the summer of 2019, Brooklyn Nets player Wilson Chandler tested positive for the growth hormone ipamorelin. DeAndre Ayton, the first overall pick in last year’s draft, tested positive for a diuretic, while John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2, a synthetic substance that has been known to boost appetite and food intake.
There have also been a number of high-profile cases involving NBA players and drugs, including the suspension of former All-Stars such as Michael Beasley, Tyreke Evans, and O.J. Mayo for drug-related offenses. However, it is important to note that the vast majority of NBA players do not test positive for banned substances and comply with the league’s anti-doping program.
It’s important to note that every one of these guys had infractions with the league before they were drug tested for NBA drugs. They had to receive multiple warnings before actually being suspended!
The NBA players who fail NBA drug tests are automatically disqualified from participating in FIBA competition, and they’re also suspended from playing NBA or WNBA ever again!!
It’s not just because of their careers that NBA players get drug tested but there is the fair play aspect as well which ensures that every player gets equal opportunities & treatment under NBA rules.
In conclusion, we hope this blog post helps you understand why NBA players get drug tested and how often do they take these tests during their careers as elite sports athletes. We didn’t even scratch the surface with information about international competitions and off-season testing since there’s just too much to cover but we tried our best!