Taurasi Denies Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

UConn alum and professional basketball star Diana Taurasi insists she never used performance-enhancing drugs. 

She said she hadn't even heard of the banned stimulant, modafinil, until she found out she had tested positive for it.

"I've never needed anything to help me. Only thing that I'm guilty of is taking too many jumpshots," Taurasi told The Associated Press by telephone on Sunday night from her parents' home in California.

In her first interview since testing positive in December for modafinil, Taurasi and her lawyer blamed the Turkish lab where the sample was analyzed.

Taurasi is widely regarded as one of the top players in the world. She was the first prominent WNBA player to test positive for a banned substance.

The 28-year-old UConn alumn said she 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. She also has plans to play for Team USA and coach her former coach -- Geno Auriemma -- in the 2012 Olympics in London.

"I went from being really angry to wondering, 'Why me?' I won't let it bring me down," she said.

Taurasi's professional club in Turkey terminated her contract after her A and B samples tested positive. The Turkish federation still hasn't said what punishment Taurasi faces, but she could be banned for up to two years.

The International Olympic Committee bars any athlete given a doping penalty of six months or more from competing in the next games. She says she will appeal any suspension.

Modafinil has been involved in several major doping cases and is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances. According to drug manufacturers, modafinil is used to combat sleepiness due to narcolepsy, shift-work sleep disorder or sleep apnea.

Taurasi has had some trouble during her pro career before. She served one day in jail and was suspended by the Mercury for two games in 2009 after pleading guilty to a DUI charge.

"The DUI was a mistake I made and I owned up to and I did my time," she said. "That really did help me in the long run growing up as a person. This is different, waking up one morning and having something pinned on you that you had no clue about. It's been a difficult month coming to terms with everything. I know I've never taken it."

"I trust that the truth will come out," she said. "At the end of the day, you can try and convince the whole world, but if you know it's true and you've never taken performance-enhancing drugs, that's what you have to live by." 

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Copyright AP - Associated Press
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