In one of the wildest stories to ever come out of Euopean professional basketball, Slovenian media company RTV reported Saturday afternoon that DJ Cooper, former Ohio University Bobcats star and March Madness hero, received a suspension from FIBA, basketball’s international body, last season for attempting to cheat a drug test.
Sure, players get suspended fairly often for trying to get away with doping or recreational drugs, but in this case, it’s a bit different. Per RTV, as translated by EuroHoops, Cooper tested positive for pregnancy, resulting in his immediate suspension for fraud.
More specifically, Cooper-- or rather, the urine Cooper submitted-- tested positive for the hormone gHC, which is produced by a placenta after impregnation. Buckle up, because it only gets weirder from there: it turns out the urine belonged to Cooper’s girlfriend, per RTV.
From a translation of the original RTV report:
Case closed, right? Well, no.
Just what was DJ Cooper, who hadn’t played professionally since 2017 with AS Monaco, where he left to go on hiatus due to family reasons, doing submitting to a drug test with FIBA?
It turns out that Cooper, a native of Chicago, Illinois, was in the process of maintaining his eligibility to stay on the senior Bosnian national basketball team. Cooper applied for (and was granted) citizenship in Bosnia-Herzegovina back in 2014, and was immediately placed on the team. The next season, just before the EuroBasket qualification tournament, Cooper left for what his agent termed a “family emergency,” though some Greek media reported it was due to a disagreement over on-court style of play.
It seems Cooper was attempting to get back onto the senior Bosnian national team when he was caught using his pregnant girlfriend’s urine to try and get past a doping test. RTV seemed to suggest in the article that Cooper hadn’t set foot in Bosnia-Herzegovina since he left the team initially in 2015, making this story all the stranger still.
It’s another strange twist in the career of Cooper, who after finishing his career as the only player in NCAA history to hit 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals over their career and leading the Bobcats to the Sweet 16 in 2012, found himself playing overseas as a professional.
He made his name in the Greek leagues, as a member first of PAOK, then Panathinaikos and AEK Athens, getting named to the Greek League Best Five in 2014 before heading to France, where he won French Pro A MVP honors and the French Leaders Cup trophy in 2016, as well as All-Star honors in 2017 with BCM Gravelines, and won the cup again in his second stint with Monaco in 2017. Cooper appeared out of the woodwork after a year-and-a-half away from the game to participate in The Basketball Tournament this past season as a member of the Mid-American Unity, a team made up of former college basketball players primarily from conferences in the Midwest.
Regardless of the circumstances, Cooper is currently suspended from FIBA play until June 24, 2020, putting his professional basketball career overseas in jeopardy over the next year.