Noah banned 20 games for doping

NEW YORK • New York Knicks centre Joakim Noah, the son of French tennis great Yannick Noah, was suspended 20 games without pay by the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Saturday after failing a doping test.

Noah, who has not played since undergoing left knee surgery last month, tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033, a substance intended to produce effects similar to those of anabolic steroids, the league announced.

His ban will begin with the first NBA regular-season or play-off game for which he is eligible and physically able to play, which means he figures to miss the start of next season.

At 27-46, the Knicks are all but eliminated from the play-off hunt.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement banned under the league's bargaining agreement with the players union. But under rules of the league-union deal starting in July, unintentional ingestion claims would be considered and a union statement said it did not think that under those future terms, Noah would have faced any punishment.

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) said that neither Noah nor the union will appeal against the suspension.

"After a thorough investigation, the NBPA believes that Joakim Noah did not intentionally or knowingly violate any policy," a union statement said. "We believe that this isolated occurrence was a regrettable mistake. Joakim has offered his deepest apologies for this infraction."

The NBPA said Noah was "completely forthcoming and cooperative" throughout the investigation.

In 46 games this season for the Knicks, all of them as a starter, Noah has averaged 5.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

The two-time NBA All-Star, who was named the league's 2014 Defensive Player of the Year, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb 4. He had also been nagged by a hamstring injury earlier this season.

He was not expected to return this season but depending on when he does, the punishment could see him forfeit between US$2.5 million (S$3.5 million) and US$2.75 million in salary.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2017, with the headline 'Noah banned 20 games for doping'. Print Edition | Subscribe