Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Nick Calathes #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) -- NBA players are warned at the start of every season about the dangers of nutritional supplements. One of them could be the reason the Memphis Grizzlies will begin the playoffs without Nick Calathes. The reserve guard was suspended 20 games Friday for violating the league's anti-drug policy by testing positive for tamoxifen. Yahoo Sports, which first reported the suspension, reported that the drug was part of a supplement that Calathes had been using. And while the supplement may not have been illegal, players are reminded that many contain substances that are. ''They are not regulated by the federal government and so you don't know what's in them. And we tell that to our players every year,'' NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan said Saturday. ''Be careful of these things, because you don't know what's in them and there might be something in there that's banned by our drug program, and if it shows up in a drug test, then you're going to suffer the consequences of that. So it's a risky proposition for any of our players to put anything in their mouth that they don't know what it is.'' Buchanan said a warning memo is sent to the players every year, and it is also laminated and posted in all locker rooms. It also warns of the potential dangers of supplements, which are not required to list all their ingredients on them. ''If a player were to take something, some kind of supplement, and it contained a banned substance, like tamoxifen, or something else, then it's a fairly straightforward application of our program once that positive is confirmed,'' Buchanan said. Players are randomly tested four times during the season and twice in the offseason. Buchanan couldn't talk specifically about the case of Calathes, a 25-year-old rookie reserve who averaged 4.9 points and 2.9 assists in 71 games this season. But he said tamoxifen, often used in breast cancer treatment pills, is on the banned substance list of most sports because it can be used to increase testosterone. Calathes will have to miss the games, though he can file a grievance to an independent arbitrator in hopes of recovering his lost salary.