New York — Indiana Pacers guard Brandon Rush has been suspended five games without pay by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.
The Indianapolis Star reported Friday that the former Kansas University player failed an NBA marijuana test for the third time.
A fourth positive test would result in a 10-game suspension, the paper reported. Every subsequent violation would be five games longer than the previous one.
Rush, who will sit out the first five games of the season, is the second Pacer recently suspended for drug use. Former Pacers center David Harrison was suspended five games in January 2008 after failing his third drug test.
As part of the collective-bargaining agreement, only the league can discipline players for violating the drug program. Teams don’t find out about failed tests until the player is suspended.
“We have been made aware that Brandon Rush has been suspended for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy,” Larry Bird, Pacers president of basketball operations, said Friday. “We will do what we can to provide Brandon help going forward.”
All NBA players are given four random drug tests a season, but the violations don’t expire. Players enter a marijuana program after the first offense. They are fined $25,000 and have to re-enter the program after the second offense. As a third-time offender, Rush must re-enter the program and serve his suspension.
Rush, who is about to enter his third year in the league, started 64 games last season and averaged 9.4 points per contest.
The Pacers have had some off-the-court issues in the past. The front office released the core of the team the past several years while trying to repair a reputation damaged by a brawl between Pacers players and Pistons fans in 2004 and several incidents after that in which Pacers players had brushes with the law.
Most recently, second-round draft pick Lance Stephenson was arrested earlier this month in New York on assault, menacing and harassment charges.
The NBA on Friday also suspended Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings and Kenny Hasbrouck of the Miami Heat for separate incidents.