Originally created 11/05/99

Heat player sent home after police find marijuana



TORONTO -- Miami Heat rookie Rodney Buford, who was arrested on drug charges earlier this year, was sent home by the team and faces disciplinary action after a small amount of marijuana was found during a customs check.

Police, who described the amount as "very, very, very small," did not charge Buford.

This is the first season in which NBA players are being tested for marijuana and steroids. Heat coach Pat Riley said there might be "implications" with the league. He refused to elaborate, and Heat players refused to comment.

The 22-year-old Buford, a 6-foot-5 swingman out of Creighton, was stopped Wednesday night during a routine customs check when the Heat arrived in Toronto.

The drugs were confiscated and the matter left to the team, Staff Sgt. Bill Matheson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

Team officials said Buford will rejoin the team Saturday when it returns to South Florida.

Under NBA and union rules, if Buford were to test positive for a banned substance he would be required to enter an anti-drug program.

Buford is on probation after pleading no contest to a charge of driving under the influence in May in Nebraska.

Buford's driver's license was suspended for 60 days. He was sentenced to 180 days of probation and fined $400. As part of his probation, Buford was ordered to undergo a drug and alcohol awareness class and abstain from drinking.

Buford was stopped after police noticed smoke coming from his vehicle and smelled a strong odor of marijuana. They ticketed Buford on suspicion of five charges -- driving under the influence of marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, speeding and failure to have a valid registration.

Prosecutors agreed to drop all charges except the DUI in exchange for a plea of no contest.