DJ Cooper ‘Pregnant’?

Claim

Basketball player DJ Cooper's urine drug test came back positive — but for pregnancy, not drugs.

Rating

Unknown

Reporting

On August 4 2019, the Facebook page “NBA talk” shared a meme containing the claim that that male basketball player DJ Cooper’s urine test for drugs returned a positive result… but not for drugs:

Along with a status update claiming that international basketball agency FIBA suspended DJ Cooper for “using a female friend’s urine,” the meme showed a photograph with text over it that said:

PREGNANT

… THE RESULT FORMER OHIO PLAYER D.J. COOPER GOT AT A DRUG TEST

(VIA INDEX.HR)

In a comment at the top, the NBA talk page remarked:

Coach: well the results are out. You tested negative from banned substances.
DJ: thanks coach but why summon me to your office when you can just mail me the results?
Coach: cause i want to personally inform and congratulate you on your pregnancy. Congratulations DJ!

The claim about Cooper’s purported positive-for-pregnancy drug test seemed almost too good to check, thanks to its resemblance to several urban legends we have seen in the past. But check it we did, turning up a whole series of posts and articles about the rumor.

Yahoo! Sports reported on the rumor on August 5 2019, citing another site’s article. Sports Illustrated similarly aggregated the story on the same day, with no apparent additional checking:

D.J. Cooper has been hit with a two-year suspension by FIBA after using his pregnant girlfriend’s urine to try and pass a drug test, according to RTV and Eurohoops.net.

Cooper needed to pass a doping test to join a basketball team in Bosnia as a naturalized player. He tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced by women during pregnancy by the placenta.

Both referenced an August 3 2019 report on EuroHoops.net, which claimed that the suspension was in 2018:

American guard DJ Cooper was punished with a two-year suspension by FIBA in 2018 after providing another person’s urine for a doping test.

As RTV reports, Cooper had to undergo a doping control to potentially join the Bosnian national team as a naturalized player. The test results on the urine that Cooper provided as his own, revealed that he’s… pregnant. More precisely, the presence of “gHC”, a hormone the placenta produces after impregnation, was detected in the urine sample.

But even that report wasn’t original; it referenced a RTV Slovenia article published on the same date. A rough translation stated in part:

It has now become known that instead of his urine, he has sent a friend’s urine to the anti-doping agency’s supervisors, who has revealed he is pregnant. Cooper is suspended until June 24, 2020.

DJ “Donell” Cooper is an American who has been playing in Europe for six seasons. He didn’t make it to the NBA league, so he built careers in Greece and Monte Carlo, playing for the Panathinaikos, AEK, Monaco and Paok. He also spent some time coaching with the Bosnian national team, thinking about assuming BiH citizenship, but all of a sudden he disappeared from training and no longer visited his unmarried new homeland.

Although Cooper is a good basketball player, he is clearly not very intelligent, Index.hr writes, as he ended up in the spotlight because of the way he tried to outsmart doping control last year. Apparently using the illicit means that would make his doping test a positive one, he decided to push foreign urine for anti-doping investigators. He obtained this from the person he trusted most, his girlfriend. Well, investigators then told him that he had passed the doping test successfully, but that he was … pregnant. The International Basketball Federation (Fiba) immediately suspended him for fraud.

Even that article wasn’t original, referencing (as did the meme) a site called Index.hr. An August 2 2019 Index.hr item — which apparently formed the basis of all other reporting — was shaky on its own:

AMERICAN basketball player DJ Cooper tried to cheat on a doping test, but he didn’t quite get it right, and the proof is ridiculous.

Cooper knocked another person’s urine out of control, and after the results came out, he turned out to be pregnant. Of course, this was strange for the investigators, so they reacted and realized that the basketball player had cheated on a doping test.

As an aside, urine pregnancy tests taken by men can return a “positive” result in some circumstances, such as the presence of some forms of testicular cancer.

Claims basketball player DJ Cooper failed a drug test when the results were positive for pregnancy has been widely reported, based on two foreign-language sources — news stories that appeared at least several months after the purported incident occurred. Using substituted “clean” urine is not an unprecedented method of beating urine drug tests, but the only indication this occurred were unsourced and gossipy claims on foreign language websites. Nothing we could find substantiated the claim as it appeared in August 2019, and the story has appeared in various forms as an urban legend for many years.