by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.July 28, 2009 1:05 am UTC 27 Comments
It’s interesting to consider NASCAR, not Jeremy Mayfield, to be in the wrong, if only because the grand majority of folks think it goes the other way around. After watching Mayfield’s 20-minute interview with WBTV in Charlotte, in which he raises a lot of good points that deftly counter NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston’s statements, it’s not a total reach.
His claims make logical sense to the conspiracy theorist, and it’s interesting to analyze them even when they seem unlikely. Taking Adderall and Claritin D can lead to a positive result for methamphetamines. By making him go through NASCAR’s rehab program, NASCAR chairman Brian France and program administrator Dr. David Black could cite Mayfield as living proof of the strength of the sport’s drug policy, one that has taken a beating over the past two and a half months.
Mayfield doesn’t even cite NASCAR’s suspension of Tim Richmond in the late 1980s, not long before his death, as a previous example of the sport throwing one of its drivers under the bus. Richmond, too, claimed his innocence, sued NASCAR, and was eventually reinstated, but much like Mayfield projects, never returned to the track because no owner was willing to hire him.
It’s also interesting to read into a lot of NASCAR’s claims over the past few months. Some can easily lead a person to suspect foul play, or at the very least exaggeration; others can just be misleading. For example:
• Consider, first and foremost, the fact that the results of both of Mayfield’s drug tests with NASCAR were not released until over a week after they were taken. Given that Mayfield was attempting to get his B sample tested between May 1 and May 9, that gap perhaps makes sense. But consider that David Black’s corporation, Nashville-based Aegis Labs, claims it only takes four days to complete a drug test. Consider also the high-profile nature of the situation. The fact that Mayfield’s July 6 test results took nine days to come out perhaps gives credence to his suspicion that NASCAR spiked his drug test; if NASCAR had gotten a positive result, why wouldn’t they have released it immediately the day they got the results? If the test simply took longer, then what explains that?
• Consider NASCAR’s claim that Mayfield attempted to dilute his July 6 drug test by ingesting large quantities of water. Mayfield had already taken a drug test that day, only a few hours prior to NASCAR showing up. The average person can urinate anywhere from 3 to 7 times per day, but it’s difficult to keep going when you have nothing with which to replenish your system. Seeing as Mayfield’s All Sport sponsorship no longer exists, water is a smart way to rehydrate, in turn producing more urine for another sample. NASCAR could have easily picked up on the presence of water in Mayfield’s sample and used it to their advantage in this way.
• Consider a claim that Mayfield cited in an interview with Sirius’ Nate Ryan and Buddy Baker on July 16. Mayfield noted that Brian France had recently claimed that NASCAR has positive drug tests “very frequently,” implying that many within the sport have tested positive for something. Furthermore, France’s July 3 remarks showed a man firm in his belief that NASCAR’s policy was strong, but were very light on specifics. If positive drug tests happen so frequently in NASCAR, assuming that multiple drivers’ tests have come back dirty, why is Mayfield the only driver to have received a suspension? Or, if France was only referring to legal prescription drugs that the sanctioning body allows, why would France have left his comments so vague?
Chances are, there are better, more truthful explanations for all of the issues raised, but with the unreliable nature of conflicting information, we can only speculate. (I am pretty positive about the pee test, though. It’s hard to force yourself to go when there’s nothing in the system.)
One of the most interesting and perhaps ironic quotes in this case comes from Ramsey Poston, NASCAR’s spokesperson, in response to Mayfield’s independent test results. The PDF features minimal information, but includes a specimen number and negative results to tests for amphetamine and methamphetamine.
In response to the PDF, Poston said, “They seem to be a little light on the details, don’t you think?”
Poston’s response is ironic, given NASCAR’s relative lack of specificity throughout this entire case. When the new drug policy still lacks a list of banned drugs for drivers, when their story of Mayfield’s forced drug test on July 6 is (at the very least) far less comprehensive than Mayfield’s version, and when Mayfield’s test results took over a week to be released (bringing into some question how the tests were handled), one could suggest that perhaps the pot is calling the kettle black.
Photo courtesy Icon Sports Media