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NASCAR’s secrecy creates doubt in the Mayfield case

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 sufferer’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.

“We had a serious violation of our substance-abuse policy, which gets you, in our situation, an automatic indefinite suspension,” the NASCAR boss said Friday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “That is where we stand with Jeremy today.”

I don’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 sport’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 Mayfield’s claims and with NASCAR’s secrecy, I’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 won’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 can’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, “You should never take on people who buy ink by the barrel”.

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 sport’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 don’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.

Topics: Articles |

2 Responses to “NASCAR’s secrecy creates doubt in the Mayfield case”

  1. G Says:
    May 18th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Nascar Nazi’s .. I thought we were in america .. They’ve always had the you need us more than we need you attitude .. I’d like to see what happens to racing if Everybody decide to take thier cars somewhere else to race. it will never be iat the level of baseball or football its not a commission of people ensuring equality amongst all the teams etc. its a conspiracy of a few .. it doesnt ensure that the teams survive only the people running the company known as nascar..

  2. Marybeth Wallick Says:
    May 18th, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Just to play devil’s advocate and look at this from a different perspective, perhaps the reason Nascar did not want drug testing in the first place, is because, to some, wrecking is what Nascar is about. It wouldmake them look like hypocrites. :) Wrecks are the reason Nascar worked long and hard with testing and R&D, and spending a fortune, to develop the safer COT.
    My problem with all of this drug testing hullabaloo is that one would think the reason for the drug testing is to keep other drivers safe on the track, which I am all for. My problem comes in when Kyle can wreck Colin Braun, and I believe that it was Brian Scott in a race, as he did in the Friday night truck race, deliberately, and ruthlessly, why have a drug policy…? To be consistent…one would think that Nascar would greatly encourage all of the drivers to come “skewed” on either drugs or alcohol to make a more fun and exciting race and fill the seats, I am just being facetious here.
    When Kyle deliberately wrecks people, the media goes nuts and says what an “exciting” and “fun” driver he is to watch, “the next great driver”, in effect, encouraging him to do more of it, that rather than be a racer and perform with finesse and skill and patience, he should be a wrecker. It worked against him Sat. night. Maybe Nascar should award 20 points to whichever driver finishes a race with the “cleanest” car. :)
    I was raised in the old Dutch Reformed Calvinist tradition, straight, and it seems to me that the greater “sin” is Kyle’s, willful destruction without regard for life at all. Was Kyle tested for drugs when he came off the track after Friday night’s wreck? If I were a driver, what real difference would it make if the driver who wrecked me is on drugs…? I read through the comments sent in to the articles on the truck race and many said that Kyle is going to kill someone, he has done this same type of wrecking many times before. He was not parked, or suspended as Mayfield is, or even held on pit road for a few laps. All he got was sent to the back of the longest line. It seemed to me that Kyle was seeing if he could get away with wrecking and taking out 2 competitors and get away with it. So which competitor is he going to take out next…?
    I am just trying to express a little food for thought here….
    Marybeth Wallick

    PS By way of disclaimer; I have never once tried drugs in my life…which may explain why I sound like I don’t know what I am talking about to some. :) I stand with Marilyn Quayle when she said that “not all of us turned on, tuned in, and dropped out”.