Suns’ Deandre Ayton suspended 25 games for failed drug test

Oct 24, 2019, 6:20 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2019, 10:34 pm
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MARCH 13:  Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks up during the first half ...
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MARCH 13: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks up during the first half of the NBA game against the Utah Jazz at Talking Stick Resort Arena on March 13, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns second-year center Deandre Ayton has been suspended 25 games for failing a drug test.

The suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy is due to a positive test for a diuretic. The team and Ayton were informed of the suspension Thursday night shortly before it was announced.

“I want to apologize to my family, the entire Suns organization, my teammates, partners, our fans and the Phoenix community,” Ayton said in a statement Thursday night.

“This was an unintentional mistake and unfortunately I put something in my body that I was completely unaware of. I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that I am deeply sorry. I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down. I will continue to work with the Players’ Union (NBPA) to go through the arbitration process and am hopeful for a positive resolution.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the NBA’s Player’s Association has already prepped an arbitration case for Ayton to reduce or entirely rescind the suspension. That case is built on Ayton’s “unintentional digestion” of a diuretic, which are medications that help increase the production of urine and also used for blood pressure and weight loss.

A diuretic is a banned substance due to its ability to serve as a “masking agent” to help the body rid itself of other illicit substances before a test.

A suspension for a diuretic has recently popped up in professional sports.

The Minnesota Twins’ Michael Pineda of Major League Baseball was suspended for 60 games in September due to a positive test of the drug. Pineda’s suspension was originally for 80 games and was reduced to 60.

Robinson Cano was also suspended 80 games in 2018 for furosemide, which is a diuretic.

Ayton, 21, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. After a rookie year that saw him have one of the most efficient and productive years for a first-year center ever, he started off this season with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in a win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

The Suns are back in action on Friday night in Denver against the Nuggets. If Ayton were to serve out the entire 25-game suspension, he would not return until Dec. 17 for a game in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

Behind Ayton on the depth chart lie veteran center Aron Baynes and reserve big man Cheick Diallo. Power forward Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric have also spent time playing at the five in the preseason and regular season.

“On behalf of the Phoenix Suns organization, Monty Williams and I are disappointed in the actions by Deandre Ayton that led to his testing positive for a banned diuretic and subsequent suspension by the NBA. This does not uphold the standards and principles we have set for the team,” general manager James Jones said in a statement Thursday night.

“Deandre has expressed his deepest remorse. While he is suspended we remain committed to his growth and development on and off the court. His actions are not taken lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that Deandre understands the profound impact it has had on the team, organization, and Suns community.”

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