Turkey lifts provisional doping ban on Taurasi
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkey's basketball federation lifted American star Diana Taurasi's provisional doping suspension Wednesday after a lab retracted its finding that she tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The Turkish Basketball Federation said the lab retracted its report after it “evaluated” Taurasi's statements in her defense. The federation did not say whether the lab made a mistake.
Taurasi not only is free to continue playing in the Turkish basketball league, she also is cleared to participate for the United States at the 2012 London Olympics.
“The Federation has decided to lift the precautionary ban imposed on player Diana Lorena Taurasi to prevent the club and the player from being aggrieved further,” the Turkish body said in a statement Wednesday.
Taurasi, who has insisted that she never used performance-enhancing drugs, had her contract terminated by Turkish club Fenerbahce last month after the lab said she tested positive for modafinil in December. It was not clear whether Taurasi would return to Turkey.
Taurasi said in an interview with The Associated Press last month that “there's no way I've ever taken anything. ... Only thing that I'm guilty of is taking too many jump shots.”
Taurasi intends to return to the WNBA when the season begins in June. The Phoenix guard has led the league in scoring the last four seasons and signed a multiyear extension last August.
Fenerbahce President Aziz Yildirim said Wednesday he was furious that Taurasi had been banned even though she was apparently innocent.
“Our player was right. We will pursue this. We have documents,” Yildirim said on the club's website. “This is a disgrace. ... It probably cost us the European Championship.”
Fenerbahce had terminated Taurasi's contract after the Ankara-based lab within Hacettepe University confirmed that her “A” and “B” samples tested positive for the stimulant modafinil following a Turkish league game Nov. 13. Taurasi had been suspended by Fenerbahce ever since.
Modafinil is used to counter excessive sleepiness due to narcolepsy, shift-work sleep disorder or sleep apnea, according to drug manufacturers.
The decision Wednesday is expected to clear the way for Taurasi to play in the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee bars any athlete who receives a doping penalty of six months or more from competing in the next games.
Taurasi helped the Americans win gold medals at the past two Olympics and was the leading scorer when the U.S. won the women's world championships.
Associated Press Writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.
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