NBA Expels Sixers' Roberts

Awad al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, which issued death sentences against 143 Dujail residents, speaks during his trial in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, March 13, 2006. Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants including al-Bandar are on trial for torture, illegal arrests and the killing of nearly 150 people from Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam in the town.
AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg

Stanley Roberts of the Philadelphia 76ers was kicked out of the NBA Wednesday after testing positive for a prohibited drug, the first expulsion under the league's tougher drug policy.

Roberts, a 7-foot center who was recently placed on the injured list, tested positive for an "amphetamine-based designer drug," the NBA said in a three-paragraph statement. A positive test calls for immediate expulsion, the league said.

Roberts, 29, was not at the First Union Center on Wednesday night before the Sixers' game against the Washington Wizards. Coach Larry Brown and president Pat Croce expressed their regret.

"It's unfortunate that Stanley would jeopardize his career and possibly his life because he wanted to take a leisure drug," Croce said. "It bothers me that we would waste time and effort on rehabilitating him. But the NBA and the players association are sending a message."

When Philadelphia signed Roberts on Oct. 19, he was not ready to play because he was recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He was placed on the injured list Monday with a strained lower back.

"I know Stanley, I go way back with him," said Brown, who also coached Roberts with the Los Angeles Clippers. "My wife goes way back with him. I'm crushed."

It was the first expulsion under the drug policy that was a big part of the collective bargaining agreement which ended the lockout in January. Veterans can be tested once a year in training camp or within 15 days of signing with a team. Rookies can be tested up to four times.

Roberts exercised his right to ask for a retest and failed it, NBA spokesman Chris Brienza said. He can apply for reinstatement in two years.

According to Roberts, the retest was given with the same sample as the first test. Roberts wanted a completely new test given.

"There's no means of support we can give to a player when they decide to screw with their heads," Croce said.

This is the first season NBA players are being tested for drugs other than cocaine and heroin, which they were tested for previously. Players were told what substances were forbidden before testing began. The substance Roberts tested for was on the list.

"It's very clear: These are the banned substances," said Brown, shaking his head.

It was not clear whether a grievance would be filed, since the drug policy is administered jointly by the league and the players' association.

However, Roberts told KRIV-TV in Houston on Wednesday that he intends to challenge the decision legally and is considering playing overseas in the meantime.

He also said he was unaware how the drug got into his system.

"All I know is that I never took a designer drug and for them to just exile mwithout giving me a chance or even re-testing me, that's it you're career is over," Roberts told KRIV-TV. "You serve 10 years, never flunked a drug test in your life."

Ratliff, the players' association representative for the Sixers, said he would try to contact Roberts to see if he needed help.

"I want to try to talk to him personally, one-on-one, to see if he wants to file a grievance or anything like that," Ratliff said.

Roberts signed a $725,000, one-year contract with the Sixers. The contract is automatically terminated by the expulsion.

Roberts, who played with Shaquille O'Neal at LSU in 1989-90, will be 31 when he can apply for reinstatement. He has a history of injuries, including two ruptured Achilles' tendons, bone spurs in his ankles, back surgery and shoulder surgery. He also has a history of weight problems. He weighed 315 pounds when the Sixers signed him.

Roberts played five games for the 76ers, averaging 10.2 minutes, 2 points and 3 rebounds per game.

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