Memphis Grizzlies point guard Nick Calathes has been suspended 20 games for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
The drug that was detected, according to the person, was tamoxifen. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details of the drug test are not typically disclosed. The NBA confirmed the suspension for tamoxifen late Friday night.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, Tamoxifen blocks the effects of the estrogen hormone in the body and is commonly used to treat breast cancer in men and women. In the sports world, it’s more commonly used to reduce the side effects of steroids. In June of 2012, free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for Tamoxifen. But Calathes, who is filing a grievance on the ruling, said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports that he didn’t take the substance to gain any sort of edge.
“I deeply regret my actions and apologize to my teammates and the organization for my poor judgment,” Calathes said by phone. “Let me be clear: I never took any medication whatsoever for a performance-enhancing reason. I don’t agree with this outcome, and I will come back a better player and person when I return.”
The timing couldn’t be worse for the Grizzlies, who have relied on the 25-year-old rookie to spell starter Mike Conley with quality minutes in Memphis’ backcourt. The Grizzlies (50-32), who finished the season as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, begin their postseason on Saturday night at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The void left by Calathes will be filled, in part, by veteran point guard Beno Udrih after he was cut by the New York Knicks and picked up on waivers by the Grizzlies in late February. Still, he only played a combined 56 minutes since joining the team and has played a much smaller role than Calathes (16.5 minutes, 4.9 points, 2.9 assists, 0.9 steals per in 71 games played this season).