Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu of Turkey was suspended 20 games by the NBA today after testing positive for steroids.
The NBA said Turkoglu tested positive for methenolone, an anabolic steroid. He began serving the suspension when the Magic hosted the Atlanta Hawks.
Turkoglu took full responsibility for the positive test and apologized to the Magic organisation, fans and fellow teammates. He said he took medication from a trainer in Turkey this past summer to help him recover from a shoulder injury and mistakenly neglected to check it against the NBA's list of banned substances.
"As a player this is the worst situation that you want to be in," Turkoglu said. "I'm just sorry to put the organisation in this situation. ... I should have double-checked and researched and shouldn't be in this situation."
He is the eighth player suspended for performance-enhancing drugs under the NBA's drug testing policy. He is the second Magic player to be suspended under the policy in four years. Former Magic forward Rashard Lewis was suspended 10 games in 2009 after testing positive for an elevated testosterone level.
Turkoglu said he was tested by the league in December and learned of the suspension yesterday. General manager Rob Hennigan said Turkoglu informed the team of the positive test a week ago.
Turkoglu sat out the Magic's past three games for what the team said were flu-like symptoms and a sore back. Hennigan said those ailments were legitimate and unrelated to the positive test.
It is the latest in a string of bad news for Turkoglu during the past year.
He missed 10 games at the end of last year's regular season for a fractured bone above his eye and then missed 28 straight games at the start of this season after breaking a bone in his hand. He's appeared in just 11 games in 2012-13 with only one start.
Turkoglu is in the third year of his second stint with the Magic. He is averaging 2.9 points, 2.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds, all down from his career numbers over the previous 12 seasons.
"It's been really nightmare," Turkoglu said. "It wasn't a really good year for me. Now I'm facing this. As a player, you face a lot of injuries. It just comes and goes. But this kind of situation, you don't want to put yourself in. This is the worst one I'm dealing with now."
Hennigan said he doesn't believe there are any issues with the NBA's drug testing policy or the culture of the team in light of Lewis' previous test.
"Clearly we need to continue to educate our players on what's safe to take and what not to take," he said. "We'll move forward. We don't support the decision he made, but we support Hedo."
After seeing his rotation disrupted throughout the season because of injuries, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said there is no choice but to move on.
"There's a great thing called reality and you have to accept it," Vaughn said. "Today was an unfortunate reality and you accept it and move forward."
Turkoglu is making about US$11.8 million this season. He has one more year remaining on his current deal, but it is only partially guaranteed. He was picked as the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2008 while with Orlando.
Asked about Turkoglu's future, Hennigan said it is yet to be determined.
"I think we're going to get through this step. We'll worry about the summer when the summer comes," Hennigan said. "Contracts are what they are. We have to make decisions about a lot of different things in the summer and certainly the Hedo situation will be one of them. But we're not able to comment now on what the decision will be."
Turkoglu said he is focused on serving his suspension.
"I've had my best years in Orlando and I've tried to play as much as I can here. Certain situations are out of my hands," he said. "So like Rob said, we'll wait for the summer to come and we'll see what happens. Right now I want to deal with this and get it over as quick as I can."
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