Rashard Lewis has been suspended for the first 10 games of the NBA season without pay for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. He claims that he didn’t know that the over the counter pills were considered steroids. He’s a key player on the Magic, and they will likely suffer without him, but maybe it will help resolve his recurring knee tendonitis. While the $1.6 million loss of salary is bad, it’s nowhere near the penalties faced in other sports.
The 10-game suspension for a first positive test in the N.B.A. is a little less than an eighth of the season. A first positive in baseball results in a 50-game suspension (about a third of the season) and a first positive in football results in a 4-game suspension (a quarter of the season).
On the plus side, the Magic’s underplayed bench will get some coveted court time. Lewis is only the 4th to recieve a suspension since the leagues drug-testing anti-dope program was initiated in 1999. The program is far from stringent, requiring no off-season testing. It is believed that the off season is when athletes benefit from the drugs the most, so if the Lewis scandal is at all indicative of a trend (unlikely), the NBA will have to reevaluate their policy.