Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu answers questions during a press conference at Amway Center after the NBA announced his 20 game suspension for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for methenolone.
In yet another blow to the Orlando Magic during a largely dismal season for the franchise, the NBA suspended small forward Hedo Turkoglu on Wednesday for 20 games without pay for testing positive for methenolone, an anabolic steroid.
Turkoglu said the drug test stemmed from a medication he took over the summer when he was in Turkey. He said he received the medication from his personal trainer to treat a shoulder injury and didn’t check with Magic medical staff to make sure the medication was safe.
“I’m sorry,” Turkoglu said. “I want to apologize [to] the DeVos family, the Magic organization, my teammates and, most important, all my fans here and all around the world and back home. This is a situation I never wanted to be in.”
Turkoglu said the league tested him in December, and Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said team officials were told by Turkoglu about the positive test a week ago.
Hennigan said he believed Turkoglu “unknowingly” took the substance.
“Clearly, Hedo made a mistake,” Hennigan added. “He knows he made a mistake. He’s owning it. It’s certainly a disappointing circumstance for us, but I personally feel very confident in the amount of diligence we use to inform our players as to what can and cannot be taken.”
Turkoglu became the second Magic player since 2009 to be suspended by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.
During the 2009 postseason, Rashard Lewis twice tested positive for an elevated testosterone level and was suspended for the first 10 games of the 2009-10 regular season.
Lewis said he took an over-the-counter supplement that he didn't realize contained a banned substance called dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA.
In the league’s anti-drug policy, DHEA and methenolone each fall under a list of banned substances classified as “steroids, performance-enhancing drugs and masking agents” (or SPEDs).
Turkoglu, who will turn 34 years old in March, did not provide details about the substance he took — whether it was injected or whether he took it orally — or how many times he took it, even though he was asked those specific questions during a news conference at Amway Center.
NBA players are subject to four random tests each season and to two random tests each offseason. Anyone who tests positive for SPEDs for the first time receives an automatic 20-game suspension and is required to enter the league’s SPEDs program.
Turkoglu has missed most of this season because he fractured his left hand in the Magic’s season-opener.
He also had missed the team’s previous three games.
At the time, team officials said Turkoglu missed the first two games because he had flu-like symptoms and missed Sunday’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers because he had a sore back.
“For sure, he missed the game because of the flu and the back soreness,” Hennigan said Wednesday. “It had no connection or correlation to what we’re learning today.”
In 11 games this season, Turkoglu is averaging 17.2 minutes, 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 turnovers per game. It’s the least productive season of his 13-year NBA career — a career that includes several superb playoff performances during the Magic’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals.
“I feel bad for him,” teammate J.J. Redick said. “I trust Turk. I’ve known him a long time, so if he says it was an accident, I believe him.”
But Redick also said players have to be careful these days.
“There’s some stuff at Whole Foods that I don’t put in my body,” he said. “They have DHEA supplements there. They have all sorts of supplements there. . . . There’s a million things we’re not allowed to take, and he took responsibility for it. It’s his fault. You have to do your due diligence before you put anything in your body.”
Turkoglu is earning approximately $11.8 million this season, and his suspension will cost him about $2.15 million in lost salary.
“You just have to do better research, I guess, when you take some stuff for your body,” Turkoglu said.
“That’s the only mistake I made. Like I said, I only took stuff for my shoulder and I was feeling better after I took [it], and that was it. It wasn’t something that I came back all jacked-up and [had] a great body and I’m flying off the roof and dunking all the balls. It wasn’t just something that helped [make] my performance better.”
Given his age, Turkoglu likely doesn't fit into the team's long-term plans.
The 2013-14 season is the final year of Turkoglu's contract, and only about $6 million of his scheduled salary of $12 million is guaranteed, according to the website ShamSports.com.
“I think we’re going to get through this step,” Hennigan said. “We’ll worry about the summer when the summer comes. Contracts are what they are. We need to make decisions about a lot of different things in the summer, and certainly Hedo’s situation will be one of them.”firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.