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Lab Retracts Finding; Taurasi Reinstated

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(Credit: Getty Images sports)

(Credit: Getty Images sports)

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By DOUG FEINBERG,  AP Basketball Writer
Diana Taurasi always was confident she would be cleared of doping allegations.

It finally happened on Wednesday.

The star guard –often considered the best woman’s basketball player in the world– had her provisional doping suspension lifted 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.

The reversal clears the way for Taurasi to compete for the U.S. national team in the 2012 Olympics.

Taurasi told The Associated Press she was thrilled to be vindicated.

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 federation also lifted the provisional doping suspension for American player Monique Coker, who plays for Ceyhan Belediyesi and had tested positive for modafinil in doping tests carried out by the same lab.

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.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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