'False Positive' Vindicates Diana Taurasi
Taurasi was cleared Wednesday when a Turkish lab retracted results that showed the women's basketball star had tested positive for the banned substance modafinil in a drug test following a Turkish league game in mid-November.
Taurasi got the news early Wednesday morning at her home in California.
"It was definitely the greatest sigh of relief," Taurasi said Thursday on a media conference call. "I do feel vindicated. The facts came out, all the information is on the table. Like I said before, that was a road I never crossed and I'm glad it came out."
Taurasi has been staunch in proclaiming her innocence.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will conduct an independent review and could suspend the Turkish lab that reported the results, which are now being characterized as a "false positive." Another American player in Turkey, former Old Dominion standout Monique Coker tested positive for modafinil and was cleared this week as well.
But damage has been done.
Her club team, Fenerbahce, terminated her contract in January. She was suspended by the Turkish Basketball Federation. She lost three months of international basketball experience.
Her status as a member of the U.S. Olympic team was threatened and her reputation was tarnished. It may still be, for all Taurasi knows.
"It could not only ruin your career, but your reputation, that's the one thing I was most concerned about," Taurasi said. "I've only worked tremendously hard on the basketball court to be where I'm at. For this to be put on me was unfair."
Taurasi said "someone has to take responsibility" for the mistake.
"It can't just happen and then it gets washed away and someone says I'm sorry and it all goes away," Taurasi said.
Taurasi said she was in "true shock" when Fenerbahce officials called her in to tell her that she had tested positive for modafinil.
"I was numb to what the piece of paper said," Taurasi said. "I was in complete shock ... The first couple of days, you don't know what to think you don't really know how to feel. Your voice, your truth doesn't have any validity at that point."
Taurasi was supported for her former college coach Geno Auriemma, who coaches the U.S. women's Olympic team. She received support from fellow players and teammates, as well as the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the league.
"That meant a lot," Taurasi said.
Taurasi said she is back in the gym now, preparing for the upcoming WNBA season. But she will choose carefully next fall when it's time to sign a new contract to play overseas.
"From here on out, I'm going to take a real close look at where I go overseas," Taurasi said. "I'm going to go somewhere I feel safe and go from there."