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Deandre Ayton’s suspension for a banned substance, explained

This is everything you need to know about Ayton’s suspension for using a diuretic.

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A zoomed in shot of Deandre Ayton’s face on the court.
Losing Deandre Ayton is a big blow for the Suns.

Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has been suspended 25 games after testing positive for a banned substance, the NBA has announced. The Phoenix Suns center was caught using a diuretic, which violates the NBA-NBPA’s anti-drug policy. He is appealing the suspension.

The suspension is a major blow to the Suns, who have been the basement of the Western Conference the last four seasons and were hoping to take a jump up the standings this year behind the development of Ayton. Phoenix won its first game of the season earlier this week, defeating the Sacramento Kings behind an impressive performance from Ayton, who finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, and was a game-high +25 on his time on the floor.

A 25-game suspension would mean Ayton is going to miss about 30 percent of the season. This is everything you need to know about Ayton’s suspension for a banned substance.

What is a diuretic and why would an athlete take it?

Diuretics increase the rate of urine flow to adjust the volume and composition of bodily fluids. A person would take a diuretic for two main reasons: a) to rapidly lose weight, or b) to mask something else they’re taking. Diuretics have been abused by athletes for both reasons and can be found on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances.

Ayton certainly didn’t look like he lost weight heading into the season. The 21-year-old’s test reportedly showed no other signs of banned substances, but that doesn’t exactly clear him. The point of taking a diuretic is so those substances don’t show up.

Is it possible Ayton took the diuretic on accident?

Of course. Ayton said it was an unintentional mistake in his statement:

It’s easy to see how Ayton could have been taking legal supplements given to him by a nutritionist or trainer who doesn’t realize these are on the banned substance list. At the same time, small doses shouldn’t trigger the positive test.

Which NBA players have been suspended for banned substances?

Ayton is perhaps the most prominent player in NBA history ever busted for a banned substance. Since 1986, 30 players have been suspended for using a banned substance, ranging from the performance enhancing type to illicit recreational use. Here are some recent and prominent examples.:

  • Wilson Chandler was banned for 25 games for Ipamorelin earlier this summer
  • Jodie Meeks was hit with a 25-game suspension for Ipamorelin and GHRP-2 last year
  • Joakim Noah was suspended 20 games for Ligandrol in 2017
  • Hedo Turkoglu was suspended 20 games for Methenolone in 2013
  • Rashard Lewis was suspended 10 games for Dehydroepiandrosterone in 2009

Which other athletes have been suspended for positive diuretic tests?

Ayton is far from the first athlete busted for using a diuretic. Some prominent examples include:

What will this suspension cost Ayton?

Ayton stands to lose $2 million if he misses the full 25 games. The second year center has a $9.5 million salary that earns him $116,620 per game.

What are the Suns going to do without Ayton?

Phoenix did add some veteran big men to the front court rotation over the offseason. The Suns moved a draft pick to get former Celtics center Aron Baynes. He should see a lot more playing time with Ayton out. Frank Kaminsky, Dario Saric, and Cheick Diallo are also newly acquired players by the Suns who can help fill minutes in Ayton’s absence.

The reality is that no one can replace Ayton and what he means to the Suns’ present and future. Just when it seemed like Phoenix’s young core could take a step forward this season, Ayton’s suspension temporarily halts their progress.