US basketball player banned in China over marijuana

BEIJING (AP) - A United States (US) player has been suspended from China's professional basketball season for using marijuana in what officials are calling the Chinese league's first doping case since it was created in the mid-1990s.

The official Xinhua news agency said 26-year-old Marcus Williams - who briefly played for National Basketball Association (NBA) teams San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers and has been in China since 2010 - was banned for six months on Monday after testing positive for marijuana on Dec 9 while playing for the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons.

Although not considered performance-enhancing, marijuana use is banned in Chinese sports. China's anti-doping agency said that it planned to boost testing in basketball in the wake of Williams' case.

Xinhua quoted Williams as apologising to fans, and vowing to ''improve and grow from this".