Geno Auriemma supports Diana Taurasi
STORRS, Conn. -- Geno Auriemma is standing by his former Connecticut star Diana Taurasi.
Auriemma said Taurasi told him that she didn't take the banned substance -- modafinil -- that she tested positive for last month.
"I'm not privy to all the information," Auriemma said after UConn's practice Tuesday. "I don't know what her attorney knows. I don't know what the Turkish federation knows. I don't know what the doping agency knows. I don't know any of that stuff. All I know is from talking to Diana. And I know she's really, really devastated by all this. And she told me, 'Coach I didn't take that. Whatever they're saying I didn't do it.' And I've got to believe her."
Taurasi had been provisionally suspended by her Turkish club team Fenerbahce pending the result of her "B" sample test, which was analyzed at the doping lab at Hacettepe University in Ankara. Her backup doping sample came back positive and she faces a possible two-year ban, Turkish news reports said Monday.
The Turkish basketball federation did not immediately confirm the reports by the Dogan News agency and private NTV news channel. Neither news outlet cited a source.
"[We've] seen those reports, but there is no official report," Taurasi's lawyer Howard Jacobs told The Associated Press. "It's disconcerting that it would come out before they finished the process."
If Taurasi is suspended for more than six months it would put her 2012 Olympics status with the U.S. national basketball team in jeopardy. She has helped the team win gold medals at the past two Olympics and was the leading scorer at the women's world championships, which the Americans won in early October.
The International Olympic Committee bars any athlete given a doping penalty of six months or more from competing in the next games.
Auriemma is the U.S. coach for the 2012 Olympics.
"My feeling is I'm going to believe Diana until proven otherwise," Auriemma said. "There's too many inconsistencies over there with what happened. There's too many question marks about the agency that administered the test. And, again I don't know anything other than what I've heard."
Modafinil is used to counter excessive sleepiness due to narcolepsy, shift-work sleep disorder or sleep apnea, according to drug manufacturers.
Auriemma admitted he didn't know if Taurasi had any problems with sleeplessness.
"People travel a lot like she does," Auriemma said. "People are under the gun a lot like she is. And there's I'm sure opportunities for whatever that is and I'm sure if that was the case you go to a doctor and you get a prescription. And I don't know any of that. D just told me, 'I didn't take it.' And that's all I can go by."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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