Basketball: Robinson faced with one-year suspension

JUST AS Derby Storm put one of their disciplinary problems behind them, another surfaced for the Budweiser League club yesterday, when their American player Maurice Robinson was banned from the game for one year after failing to supply a complete urine sample during a Sports Council doping control test.

The better news for Storm was that Yorick Williams rejoins their line- up for tonight's opening game against Thames Valley Tigers in their best of three play-off quarter-final, after completing his regular season ban following the brawl at Chester in January.

Derby are now appealing against Robinson's ban, which will clear him to play tonight and in Wednesday's second leg. However, if the appeal fails and the tie goes to a third game, Robinson could miss that and the finals at Wembley in three weeks' time, if Derby qualify.

Robinson's offence occurred when he was one of eight players tested by the Sports Council following the League Trophy final at the NEC on 13 March, which Derby lost to Manchester Giants.

Players are often dehydrated after games and Robinson could not supply a sample sufficient for analysis. But after he was given extra time to consume fluids, Robinson left the arena without providing the sample.

A statement by the Doping Control Committee of the English Basketball Association confirmed the "acceptance of the situation by the player" and added: "Failure to provide a complete sample constitutes a doping offence."

The Thames Valley Tigers' coach, Paul James, was in the meantime playing down the return of the England international Williams to the Derby line- up prior to tonight's match.

James said: "I'm sure he feels he has something to prove and that could disrupt them. Derby have played pretty well without Yorick."

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