- Marc Stein, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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NBA players received an official memo from the league this week announcing that the designer steroid THG will be officially classified as a banned substance starting next season, ESPN.com has learned.
League spokesman Tim Frank confirmed the new policy Friday, saying: "The NBA and the NBA Players Association have agreed to add THG and gestrinone to the banned-substances list under the league's anti-drug policy beginning with the 2004-05 season.
Formal tests for THG, also known as tetrahydrogestrinone, will start in training camp next October. The steroid has caused widespread scandal in the track and field community, but one Western Conference All-Star told ESPN.com that he would be surprised to hear that NBA players are using the drug.
"This is still too much of a skill game," said the player, who requested anonymity. "I don't think most [NBA] players would even think that steroids can help them."
The fact that the Players Association so readily agreed to add THG to the list of banned substances -- at a point where negotiations on the next labor contract are just starting -- supports the player's theory.
The THG memo follows a recent letter sent by union chief Billy Hunter to all NBA players indicating that stricter testing measures against marijuana use are also forthcoming. As part of labor negotiations, the NBA is proposing random testing for all veterans during the season. At present, veterans can only be tested for marijuana during training camp.
The NBA's move to formally outlaw THG also comes just days after President Bush called for pro sports leagues and athletes in all sports to eliminate the use of performance-enhancing drugs. In last week's State of the Union address, Bush said: "I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now."
The following is the NBA's classification of banned substances:
A. Drugs of Abuse
Amphetamine and its analogs (including, but not limited to, methamphetamine and MDMA)
Opiates (Heroin, Codeine, Morphine)
B. Marijuana and its Byproducts
Ephedra (also called Ma Huang, Bishop's Tea and Chi Powder)
Norpseudoephedrine (also called cathine)
NBA players received an official memo that the designer steroid THG will be officially classified as a banned substance starting next season.