By admin | May 17, 2009
By Richard Allen
Jeremy Mayfield says that the only drug he took before his positive drug test in Richmond was the allergy reliever, Claritin-D. Depending on the allergy suffererâ€™s location, the medication may be acquired over-the-counter or by prescription.
Doctors with knowledge of such things say that Claritin-D can cause a positive drug test.
Brian France says that Mayfield tested positive for a performance enhancing or recreational drug, not Claritin-D or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medication.
â€œWe had a serious violation of our substance-abuse policy, which gets you, in our situation, an automatic indefinite suspension,â€ the NASCAR boss said Friday at Loweâ€™s Motor Speedway. â€œThat is where we stand with Jeremy today.â€
I donâ€™t know what type of drug Mayfield tested positive for. I have not seen the results of the test and would not know how to read the results even if I did see the report.
I do know, however, that NASCAR is not helping its cause by keeping secrets. Major League Baseball and the National Football League reveal what substances were found when one of their competitors fails a drug test.
By running their organization with all the openness of the Nixon White House, NASCAR sets itself up for conjecture at the least and outright claims of incompetence, conspiracy and favoritism at the worst.
This past week the internet was abuzz with claims that Mayfield had indeed only taken Claritin-D and that NASCAR was involved in a cover-up operation to protect Claritin, one of the sportâ€™s major sponsors.
At first, I thought those claims were merely the rants of conspiracy theorists who were simply looking for dark shadows to chase down. Now, with Mayfieldâ€™s claims and with NASCARâ€™s secrecy, Iâ€™m not so sure.
Maybe Mayfield is telling the truth. Maybe France is telling the truth. Maybe the truth lies at some point between the two.
By maintaining their policy of not telling the whole story, NASCAR allowed Mayfield to take the offensive and thus score a huge public opinion victory. And just like in the world of politics, if one side can convince the public that they are the side of truth, the real truth may not matter so much.
NASCAR has made it too much of their daily routine to operate this way. As one example, they call speeding penalties on pit road but wonâ€™t allow anyone to see the data they use to determine the infraction.
When NASCAR was a smaller, more regional sport with far fewer media types hanging around, they could get away with such behavior.
Now, the organization wants to be treated like a major player in the sports world with big television contracts and massive sponsorship deals, but they want to revert to the old way of doing things when it is convenient to do so.
NASCAR canâ€™t have it both ways. Decades of being run as a family business has led to feelings of invincibility and superiority. Those are the very things that will spur the media to action. And as the old saying goes, â€œYou should never take on people who buy ink by the barrelâ€.
Last Saturday in Darlington when NASCAR sent spokesman Jim Hunter to the media center to announce that Mayfield and two crewmen had tested positive and had thus violated the sportâ€™s substance abuse policy, they could have saved themselves a great deal of trouble if they had allowed him to say what it was that was found. Instead, they decided to fall back on their default position of keeping secrets.
So, did Jeremy Mayfield test positive for a recreational drug or did he test positive for Claritin-D which sent NASCAR into cover-up mode? I donâ€™t know and neither does anyone else, save a select few in the ivory tower.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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