Orlando Magic All-Star forward Rashard Lewis has tested positive for the steroid known as DHEA, and will thus face a 10-game suspension to start the 2009/10 season, reports Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel.
More from Bianchi:
According to league sources, Lewis was taking nutritional supplements at the end of last season that unknowing to him contained a substance commonly known as DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) – a chemical compound made naturally in the body but also found in numerous over-the-counter supplements at nutritional stores. The substance is banned by most sports leagues, including the NBA.
One source said he believed Lewis’s positive test was "an honest mistake."
"There are more than 100 banned substances on the league’s list and athletes have to watch everything they take from common cold medications to vitamins to supplements," the source said.
I'm inclined to believe Bianchi's source when he or she says Lewis made an honest mistake.
Lewis recently issued a statement, which contains an apology:
"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."
Lewis will be eligible to return for the contest against the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday, November 16th. Among the games he'll miss is the first of four rematches of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a nationally televised affair on Wednesday, November 11th.
It's hard to say what the Magic will do to replace Lewis' production. They could go conventional and start free-agent signee Brandon Bass, a veritable wrecking ball, at power forward. They could also attempt to maintain the status quo by starting Matt Barnes, who is similar to Lewis in style and build. Ryan Anderson, obtained in the trade which brought Vince Carter to Orlando, could also start in Lewis' stead, given his skill-set.
Overall, the news is surprising and disappointing. The Magic and their fans will have to hope coach Stan Van Gundy can shepherd his team through the first 10 games without their starting, floor-stretching, All-Star power forward.