By Ben Golliver
The NBA announced Wednesday that Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the NBA's anti-drug program. Turkoglu tested positive for methenolone, an anabolic steroid.
Turkoglu explained his positive test in a statement released by the Magic.
"While I was back home in Turkey this past summer, I was given a medication by my trainer to help recover more quickly from a shoulder injury," Turkoglu said. "I didn't know that this was a banned substance and didn't check before taking it. I take full responsibility for anything that goes into my body. This was a complete error in judgment on my part and I apologize to the Orlando Magic organization, the league, my teammates, and the Magic fans. I know I have let down a lot of people and I am truly sorry for my mistake."
Turkoglu, 33, has played in just 11 games this season after breaking his left hand in the Magic's season-opener, averaging 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. He is on the books for $11.8 million this season. A 20-game suspension without pay will cost him roughly $2.1 million.
"Hedo unknowingly took a banned substance," Magic GM Rob Hennigan said in a prepared statement. "There are more than 125 banned substances on the NBA List, and we spend a lot of time educating our players on the contents of that list and will certainly continue to do so moving forward. We believe this was an honest mistake."
The National Post notes that Turkoglu becomes the eighth NBA player to be suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, joining Don MacLean (5 games in 2000), Matt Geiger (2 games in 2001), Soumaila Samake (5 games in 2002), Lindsey Hunter (10 games in 2007), Darius Miles (10 games in 2008), Rashard Lewis (10 games in 2009) and O.J. Mayo (10 games in 2011).
Methenolone is listed under the "Steroids, Performance Enhancing Drugs, and Masking Agents" section of the NBA's anti-drug program, instituted in the new collective bargaining agreement. Use of substances in this category requires an automatic 20-game suspension for a first violation, a 45-game suspension for a second violation and a dismissal from the NBA for a third violation.
Turkoglu's suspension will begin on Wednesday night when the Magic host the Hawks in Orlando. He will be eligible to return on March 27 against the Bobcats. The Magic currently are 15-36 and have lost 12 of their last 13 games.