By admin | June 18, 2009
By Richard Allen
The headline of this piece is meant to raise the question asked on several levels.
It was announced during the weekend of the Southern 500 at Darlington that Jeremy Mayfield had been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for failing a drug test.
In the first asking of “What was Jeremy Mayfield thinking?” I have to wonder about the events of the next 48 hours or so after the initial announcement. Mayfield insisted that he had only taken the allergy reliever Claritin-D, and that’s what caused the positive result on his drug test. It was also revealed later that he had also taken Adderall XR, a drug most commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder.
Internet columns and message boards across the country suspected NASCAR of a cover-up on the level of the JFK assassination and the Roswell UFO crash conspiracy theories. Columnists and fans alike accused NASCAR of trying to keep one of its sponsors, Claritin, from looking bad.
NASCAR did not do itself any favors by shrouding the drug test in secrecy.
If Mayfield had only taken Claritin-D and Adderall then he would have been right to pursue the case to the furthest. However, if he had taken something else and knew very well that an allergy reliever was not what caused his positive, wouldn’t the best course of action just be to stop talking? The plot of this story begins to thicken here.
In the second asking of “What was Jeremy Mayfield thinking?” I have wonder about Mayfield’s next move. He brought in attorney Bill Diehl to press the case further. Would it be a prudent move to hire an attorney and continue to push the case if the drug was known by the accused to be something other than what he claimed?
NASCAR vehemently denied that Mayfield had only tested positive for Claritin-D. They insisted that it was much worse. When pressed as to what the drug was, however, they remained mum on the subject.
“What was Jeremy Mayfield thinking?” when he took the case to the point of no return by going to court. The court of public opinion often takes the side of an accused person who fights back against his accusers. It is generally believed that no one would be so foolish as to file a lawsuit knowing that he is in the wrong.
Now, NASCAR came out swinging. They filed a countersuit against Mayfield saying that he put his fellow competitors at risk. And for the first time, it was leaked that the drug to have triggered the positive test was methamphetamine.
NASCAR has also stated its belief that one of the experts to have come out in Mayfield’s favor has lied about his credentials, thus throwing a cloud of doubt over any testimony that might come from this potential witness.
Mayfield countered the leak by claiming he had been involved in a fiery crash in Talladega which had also added to the potential of a positive drug result. He said he inhaled fumes in that crash.
For a person such as myself with very limited knowledge of drugs and drug testing this story is very confusing.
What was Jeremy Mayfield thinking if he actually did take an illegal drug and then went out and raced? What was he thinking when he continued to push this case further and further knowing he was in the wrong, if indeed that is the case?
It would seem to me that he was thinking he was in the right. But at the same time it seems to me that NASCAR thinks they are right as well. Two sides convinced they are right and both seemingly with evidence on their side will make for a very interesting court case, if one ever occurs.
Typically, I have been one to cast a doubtful eye in NASCAR’s direction in cases such as this. However, nothing seems to be going in Mayfield’s favor at this time. And, either way I think it is safe to say that he has driven his last NASCAR race.
Some have claimed that NASCAR was so harsh toward owner/driver Carl Long to take attention away from this case. That may be, but in my mind these cases are not similar in any way.
I don’t know for sure why NASCAR chose to do what they did with Long, but in the Mayfield case it seems as though they have taken the proper course. It seems to me they should have been more lenient toward Long, but this sport has to have zero tolerance for drug related issues.
At one time, Jeremy Mayfield’s career seemed to have great potential. He won races driving for Roger Penske and Ray Evernham. Now, that career seems headed toward an early conclusion.
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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