Late last night, the news broke that Phoenix Mercury and all-around sports superstar Diana Taurasi tested positive for a banned substance on a routine drug test. The test was administered in Turkey, where Taurasi is playing with Mercury teammate Penny Taylor with Club Fenerbahce. In a statement released today by the Turkish Basketball Federation, the substance was identified as the stimulant Modafinil.
According to the statement, the sample was taken on November 13 and has since tested positive for the presence of the banned substance. Modafinil is described as drug used in prescription form to help reduce sleepiness in patients suffering from narcolepsy. The drug was added to the banned substance list in 2004 due to its ability to enhance athletic performance by reducing the perception of exhaustion.
The statement from the Turkish Basketball Organization states that the second or "B" sample results will be released when they are available.
Taurasi's lawyer Howard Jacobs has stated that the basketball star will be vindicated when the full facts are known and has insinuated that Taurasi was treated unfairly by the testing agency, who released the results information prematurely. Jacobs' legal practice focuses on defending athletes accused of using banned substances. He was described by a USA Today article as "drug testing's version of Johnnie Cochran, an attorney who becomes high profile because high-profile clients turn to him during a crisis."
Having followed other doping cases involving athletes in Europe and consulted with SB Nation's cycling experts, it is not uncommon for the "A" test results to be released to the media when the case involves high profile athletes. It will likely be another week or two before the "B" test results are known, according to reports. In the meantime, there's little to do but wait and avoid speculating either way about this case.
The Phoenix Mercury have not yet made any statement regarding their star player.