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NBA Disqualifies O.J. Mayo Under League Anti-Drug Program

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on July 05, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The NBA has dismissed and disqualified free agent guard O.J. Mayo under the league's anti-drug program. According to a press release, Mayo will be eligible to apply for reinstatement in two years.

The league said it was "prohibited from publicly disclosing information regarding the testing or treatment of any NBA player under the Anti-Drug Program," and announced only the suspension and reinstatement restriction. So what did Mayo test positive for, and what does it mean for him?

Policy Negotiation

The league's Anti-Drug Program is part of the most recent collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NBA and the Players Association in 2011. Under the agreement, the NBA prohibits two classes of drugs:

  1. Drugs of Abuse: amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, cocaine, LSD, opiates (heroin, codeine and morphine), PCP; and
  2. SPEDs: steroids, performance-enhancing drugs, and masking agents.

(Marijuana is also banned under the policy, but is listed separately.)

Whether the NBA publicly discloses the source of the suspension depends on the drug involved. As the CBA states:

If a player is suspended or disqualified for conduct involving a Drug of Abuse or marijuana, the NBA shall not publicly disclose the particular Prohibited Substance involved ... If a player is suspended or disqualified for conduct involving a SPED, the particular SPED shall be publicly disclosed along with the announcement of the applicable penalty.

This means Mayo's suspension is likely based on testing positive for marijuana or a drug of abuse.

Lost Dollars

Although Mayo can apply for reinstatement in two years, his return to the court is not guaranteed. "A player will only be reinstated with the approval of both the NBA and the NBPA," under the CBA, "and such approval may be conditioned on random testing and other terms." Meanwhile, Mayo will be sacrificing quite a bit of salary. As Michael McCann pointed out, two years out of work for player of Mayo's age "is like losing a decade of income."

And all for a drug that, by the league's own admission, did not enhance his performance on the court. And Mayo can't go to court over his suspension -- any appeal has to go through an arbitrator.

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