UPDATE 2: Official word from the NBA
NEW YORK, Aug. 6, 2009 – Rashard Lewis of the Orlando Magic has been suspended without pay for ten games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for an elevated testosterone level, it was announced today by the NBA. Lewis’ suspension will begin with the first game of the 2009-10 NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.
UPDATE 1: A statement from Rashard Lewis
From the Magic:
"First and foremost I take full responsibility for the situation and accept the corresponding penalty. Toward the end of the season I took an over-the-counter supplement which at the time I did not realize included a substance banned by the NBA. I apologize to Magic fans, my teammates and this organization for not doing the research that should come with good judgment. I hope this unintentional mistake will not reflect poorly on our team and its great character. I hope every athlete can learn from my mistake that supplements, no matter how innocent they seem, should only be taken after consulting an expert in the field."
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting
that Rashard Lewis will suspended for the first 10 games of next season after testing positive for the use of a banned substance. The Sentinel's Mike Bianchi broke the news Thursday, and there's been no official word from the NBA, the Magic or Lewis himself. Bianchi did speak to Lewis' agent, Tony Dutt, who didn't confirm the suspension but didn't exactly deny it either.
"We're just getting word of some things, so at this point I don't want to make a comment on it." "It's our understanding it was a vitamin supplement."
This is the first time I can remember a player being suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs in the NBA. Bianchi's story says that it was most likely from an over-the-counter drug, but either way looks like the Magic will be without their max-contract player for the first month of the season. It can't be understated how big of a blow it will be in the early going for the team to be without Lewis. Now that Turkoglu is gone I expected Rashard to take a big step forward next season. On the other hand, I think the team can get by without him and the recent acquisition of Matt Barnes and Brandon Bass should help fill the void in in absence. I'll be interested to see how Lewis reacts to the news. Will he act like Andy Pettite or more like Roger Clemens? I'm also sure that the talk shows and blogs will jump all over this story, asking the question whether or not PEDs are a threat to the NBA. What do you think? Could PEDs be a problem of the NBA? How much of an impact will the suspension have on the Magic next season?