NBA to stop in-game drug testing after Evans delay

Updated: December 7, 2005, 7:50 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- NBA players will not be allowed to take their drug tests during games, the league said Wednesday, after a Seattle player missed part of the third quarter Tuesday night while taking his.

Reggie Evans

NBA spokesman Tim Frank would not talk specifically about Seattle's Reggie Evans, who teammates said missed the first few minutes of the second half against the New York Knicks while being tested.

But the league is changing when tests are allowed, Frank said.

"Our policy, however, does not require a player to take a drug test at any point during a game, and we will ensure going forward that no testing is conducted during this time," he said.

A phone message left for the players' association was not immediately returned.

After Tuesday night's game, Seattle's Ray Allen said that Evans was not on the bench for the opening moments of the second half because he was taking his league mandated drug test, required under the new collective bargaining agreement.

Evans, who started at power forward, returned to the bench with about 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, but did not re-enter the game until there was 1:48 left in the quarter. During that stretch, Seattle's lead shrunk from 13 to six.

Following Wednesday's practice, Evans said he got caught up in his normal pregame routine and did not take the test before the game because he forgot. Evans said he used the restroom before the game and then remembered about the test.

"If you do your normal routine, you tend just to focus on that," Evans said. "You're not really thinking about [the test]."

He decided to take the test at halftime at his own choice. Evans said he would have made it back in time, but "the dude moved too slow."

Allen, one of Seattle's player representatives, said Wednesday the new testing takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, longer than previous tests. This is the first year the league is using an independent organization to conduct the screenings.

Allen was upset that Evans' absence interfered with Seattle's chemistry. Seattle led 50-41 at halftime, but ended up losing 104-101 to the Knicks. Allen also raised the issue of being tested on game day, instead of the day before or day after games.

"It's one of those situations that fell through the cracks a little bit, and I think it was unfortunate for us, but I won't use it as an excuse as to why we lost," he said.

Seattle coach Bob Weiss said all he was told was that Evans was in the bathroom and didn't know if he was sick or if he would return. Weiss put Robert Swift in the lineup to start the second half.

"I don't know if people did know that he wasn't out there warming up," Weiss said.

Weiss said because of the confidentiality of the drug testing, he could not comment. General manager Rick Sund said he spoke with the league, but would not comment other than saying that drug testing is a very good part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Evans also reiterated that his test would come back negative.

"I've been clean since I've been in the league, I've been clean since I've been in college, I've been clean since I've been in high school, middle school, elementary school," Evans said. "I'm just cleaner than clean. I'm cleaner than Pine-Sol."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press