Athletistic / Basketball. Over the past decades, global sport has become hostage to the fight against doping. On the one hand, it is important and necessary to fight against “cheating”; on the other, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has acquired too much power and considers itself the center of world sport.

With the help of WADA, not only sports wars, but also political wars are waged. This is exactly how they began to fight Russia after the triumphant Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. WADA also began to put pressure on pharmaceutical companies that it liked: the agency included a drug among the banned drugs, while its almost complete analogue, but produced by another manufacturer, remained authorized. This was the case with Meldonium and its twin brother, L-carnitine. The first was produced by the Latvian company Grindex and the second by the American BioTech USA.

But even in such a strict and oppressive sports environment, there are unique cases of doping controls. One of the most famous stories is the disqualification of basketball player Donell “DJ” Cooper. The American leader received one of the most astonishing suspensions in the history of sport for violating anti-doping rules.

Student years

Cooper announced himself quite early. Already at the age of 19, he was included in the list of 30 most promising players among American university teams and received several offers from universities playing in the most prestigious American student league – the NCAA. In 2009, DJ accepted an offer from the Ohio University team and became one of its leaders for the next four years. There, the point guard spent an average of 35 minutes on the floor and scored 15 points and 6 assists.

Photo source: NCAA

Cooper was a good player, but he constantly alternated between a stunning match and a dull, dull performance. The guy was missing something, and it wasn’t so much the technical side of the problem as it was the mental side. At the age of 22, the player decided to enter the NBA draft, but no one chose him there. Without thinking twice, Cooper sets off to conquer Europe.

Moving to Europe

His first team in Europe was the Greek PAOK. There, Donell quickly went through the adaptation process and became the team leader from the first matches. His statistics in the Thessaloniki club were at a good level. The leader averaged 10 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists during his first season across the Atlantic. Considering that a basketball match lasts less time in Europe (40 minutes compared to 48 minutes in North America), these statistics were at a very good level.

Cooper’s game attracted the attention of higher status teams, and in the summer of 2014 he signed a one-year contract with Krasnoyarsk “Yenisei”, which played in the VTB United League. The leader showed himself in all his glory and was not only the leader of the middle peasants of the VTB League, but also one of the most outstanding players of the entire tournament. Cooper became the best assist at the end of the season (an average of 9.2 assists per match) and also set a new VTB United League record for the number of assists in a single match – he helped his partners 23 times during the meeting with Astana.

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The same year, Donell became a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The player was immediately called up to the national team, but during preparation for the team’s training camp, Cooper was injured and was unable to participate in the qualifying tournament for the 2015 European Championship.

In May 2015, when Enisey had already finished the season, Cooper decided to return to Greece. The American received an invitation to one of the strongest clubs in Europe, Panathinaikos, where he was supposed to help the green team in the decisive matches of the season. However, he failed to take advantage of this opportunity and gain a foothold in Pao. DJ was always missing something. Many of his former partners spoke of him as a strong basketball player, but a relaxed person.

Before the start of the 2015/2016 season, Cooper accepted Red October’s offer. The player signed a one-year contract with the Volgograd club, but already in November, having received another offer from Greece, he left Russia and joined AEK. His history with this club could have been even shorter than what happened to him at Panathinaikos. 12 days after signing the contract, AEK reported that Cooper had committed numerous serious disciplinary offenses in a short time and that the club was considering expulsion from the team. Cooper had to apologize to management and partners. Already in January 2016, he left AEK and moved to Monaco.


Cooper spent 2.5 years in France. He helped Monaco reach the FIBA ​​Champions League final and constantly found himself in various highlights and peaks. It seemed like the player had finally found himself and his team and everything would be okay for him. However, Donell decided otherwise. In the summer of 2018, he left Monaco for “family reasons” and announced he had to return to the United States. It was extremely strange, because a few days later it became known that Cooper, through his agent, was interested in the possibility of traveling to the venue of the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team. The basketball player tried to find a new club with a higher status, but was disqualified for two years.

To qualify to play for the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team, Cooper had to pass a mandatory drug test. The problem was that, as it turned out later, the player was a drug addict. To avoid problems, Donell resorted to a trick that gave us an incredible plot.

Photo source: AS Monaco Basket

A few weeks after passing the tests, it became known that the player, by decision of FIBA, was suspended from all official matches. Later, details emerged. And they were extremely interesting. Donell Cooper failed a doping test because abnormalities were found in the basketball player’s tests. Notably, the problems did not involve performance-enhancing drugs, recreational drugs, or any other drugs. The athlete’s drug test showed that the basketball player was pregnant. A urine test submitted by Cooper for analysis revealed that he had low human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, which is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy.

According to the report, the urine test didn’t actually belong to Donell, but to his girlfriend, who likely didn’t know she was pregnant at the time. This is how Cooper not only received a two-year ban for fraud, but also learned that he would soon become a father.

As a result, FIBA ​​suspended Cooper for two years for fraud. Doneel managed to return to professional sports only in the summer of 2020. At first, the middle peasant of the French championship Elan Chalon was not afraid to sign a contract with him, but two years without training greatly affected the quality of the leader’s play. A few weeks later, his contract was terminated. DJ tried to find another team in Europe, but because of his past he was never successful. The media reported that Cooper was ready for any terms and conditions and asked to join the VTB United League, but in Russia no one wanted to deal with the scandalous player. The Mexican “Dorados de Chihuahua” decide to welcome him. In the 2021/2022 season, Donell played in Ukraine for Dnepr and in the summer of 2022 he was accepted by Israeli Ironi Ness Ziona. But regardless of how DJ performed, he will be remembered for his history of cheating on drug tests.

Nikita Serbakov, Athletistic