SBD/Issue 167/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Jeremy Mayfield May Seek Legal Action Over NASCAR Suspension

    Mayfield Denies He Took
    An Illegal Substance
    NASCAR team owner/driver Jeremy Mayfield Saturday denied that he "took a substance that violated NASCAR's substance abuse policy and plans to do whatever he has to, even if that means legal action, to override his indefinite suspension," according to David Newton of ESPN.com. Mayfield reiterated that his positive test "came from combining two over-the-counter Claritin D 24 hours with a prescription drug," and said that he has "no plans to go through the rehabilitation process that NASCAR says is necessary for reinstatement into the sport." NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France Friday claimed that Mayfield’s violation was for a "'serious infraction,' defining serious as a recreational or performance enhancing drug." But sources said that it "was not for performance enhancing, leaving recreational as the only option." Mayfield claims that Dr. David Black, who runs NASCAR's drug testing policy, never told him "what the drug was," but a NASCAR official said that Mayfield "has a document that explains what he took." Mayfield said that Dr. Black told him that Claritin, a sponsor of Carl Edwards' No. 99 Ford, "could have triggered the result." But Mayfield added, "Now it's not triggering it because I think they're a sponsor." Mayfield added, "The damage is done. It's huge. My family and friends, everybody that knows me, knows better. It's a huge deal. It's been frustrating" (ESPN.com, 5/17). Mayfield contends that when NASCAR "told him he had the right for a B sample, he thought that meant he would be retested," and he "didn't realize the same sample would be tested again by the same lab." Mayfield: "It's illegal. The same lab can't test both samples" (ESPN.com, 5/16).

    TESTY SITUATION: ESPN's Marty Smith said Mayfield's suspension “struck fear among the driving core, based largely on several unknowns that surround the drug policy right now.” NASCAR has not released a list of banned substances to its drivers, and Smith said, “Should there be a banned list or not? Many drivers say yes, many say no, but largely there’s indifference because drivers look at both sides of this thing and the vast unknowns that the policy creates.” NASCAR driver Jeff Burton said, “If you look at that list, I don’t know what in the hell those things are.” NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said, “Nobody deserves nothing, no list or nothing. Don’t do drugs, don’t do stupid stuff” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 5/16). In Orlando, Tania Ganguli noted while some see NASCAR's suspension of Mayfield "as a sign that the sport is serious about staying clean, others question its fairness." NFLPA Dir of Player Development Stacy Robinson said, "You have to have an appeals process. ... It's like with anything, there's got to be some guideline or criteria. Guys need to know what they need to stay away from." Driver Mark Martin wondered, "When you pick up the paper and you see 'zero tolerance,' ... what does that mean?" Ganguli noted the fact that "no legal agreement exists between drivers and the sanctioning body gives NASCAR a greater freedom than other leagues to be as strict as it wants." France said, "We're really after a very tough policy that's thorough and that, most importantly, puts a very, very big deterrent forward for anyone who would like to think about violating that policy" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/16). France Friday said there is "nothing to be gained by disclosing" the substance for which Mayfield tested positive (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/16).  

    MID-SEASON CHECKUP: France addressed several "other issues facing NASCAR in the early portions of this season," including "car manufacturers' financial problems." France: "We know what everyone else knows: That Chrysler is in bankruptcy proceedings and that they are current with all obligations to our sport. I don't know whether they (have fulfilled obligations) in other areas of sponsorship. I think it's too early to determine what restrictions they are going to have, if any." France also claimed NASCAR's declining TV ratings are "changing over the last three or four races, because the story lines now are unfolding and a lot of things that we think capture and get the attention of our fans are coming into play" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/16).

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  • Vick Reinstatement Bid Gives Goodell Chance To Show Forgiveness

    Vick Will Be Transferred From Prison
    To Home Confinement This Week
    Former Falcons QB Michael Vick this week will be transferred from prison to home confinement, and his case to return to the NFL gives Commissioner Roger Goodell an "opportunity to tell fans and pressure groups that Vick has served his time and has a right to make a living," according to William Rhoden of the N.Y. TIMES. This is a "time for wise leadership from Goodell, who has so far been playing to the crowd in a high-profile crusade to show the public that inmates are not running the asylum." Goodell "doesn't say what, in his mind, genuine remorse would look like" from Vick. Rhoden: "What does Goodell want, and what act of contrition will meet his standard of remorse? Vick has lost almost everything. He has been disgraced before the public, his family and his friends. He is bankrupt. You don't think he's sorry? You don't think Vick feels remorse?" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/17). SI.com's Peter King writes there is "no good reason why Michael Vick ... should not be reinstated to play in the NFL this fall." King added, "I would do one thing as a final wrist-slap to Vick if I were Roger Goodell: I'd suspend him for the first four games of the 2009 season for lying on at least three occasions to his employer and Goodell about his involvement in dog-fighting" (SI.com, 5/18).

    INTERNATIONAL OUTRAGE: In Nashville, David Climer wrote Goodell's plan to move "multiple regular-season games to London" each season is an "injustice to players, coaches and fans." Goodell "for some strange reason ... seems to think he must do whatever it takes to grow the game internationally." Climer: "This just in, commish: The NFL already is the standard by which all professional sports are judged. ... England already has its brand of football -- soccer. Let them bend it like Beckham, not pass it like Peyton" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/17). But NFL Network's Brian Baldinger said, "We’re chasing dollars here. They have the ability to chase some dollars overseas, then I think you have to go get those dollars. I think as a player you may not understand it and a coach you may not like it, but in the big picture of this thing, you’ve got to grow this thing globally.” NFL Net's Sam Wyche: "My question is, ‘Do you really need to grow it globally?’ The United States is pretty much the only country where we play this sport" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 5/15). ESPN.com’s Len Pasquarelli said, "There’s a finite number of t-shirts you can sell, I think, and there’s a number past which the TV networks aren’t going to go. You’ve got to give some type of trade-off and that trade-off might be to play a game in London" (“Football Today,” ESPN.com, 5/15).

    BOWL BUILDUP: In a special to the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, South Florida Super Bowl XLIV Host Committee Chair Rodney Barreto noted "more than 1,500 people showed up" to three seminars "to learn how they can do business with the Super Bowl." Barreto: "Those local business owners all know just how much hosting the Super Bowl helps our entire community. ... As we push forward in these tough economic times, keep this in mind. We as a community will all get through this together, and hosting Super Bowls is something we do better than anyplace else. We're already bidding for the 2013 game" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 5/15).

    READY FOR KICKOFF: UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue noted the UFL season "will start in October and end Nov. 27, Thanksgiving weekend," and he said the league has had "cordial conversations" with the NFL. Huyghue: "I've kept them updated from Day 1 of this process. Obviously, all of us come from the NFL, so we grew up together in the league, working together. I've made it very clear that we want to work complementary to the NFL. I think they'll find that we're beneficial to them, as we're allowing players -- at the end of our season -- to go directly to the NFL." Huyghue added, "I think you're going to see players who are in transition that are big-time guys who get stuck because they ask for a lot of money, or [WR] Marvin Harrison types. And I think you'll see up-and-coming quarterbacks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/17).

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  • Shrinking LPGA Tournament Schedule Cuts Paydays For Golfers

    LPGA Dealing With Several
    Tournaments Cut From Schedule
    The number of potential paydays for some LPGA players has been "slashed because of a shrinking tournament schedule and a slightly higher percentage of events restricted to fewer players," according to the N.Y. TIMES' Karen Crouse, who wrote under the header, "Women's Golf Today: Nice Work If You Can Get It." LPGA players are "like furloughed workers, taking weeks off without pay," leaving them "scrambling for work." Crouse: "What can the tour do when it has more talent and fewer tournaments?" But golfer Lorena Ochoa said, "I think it's not good to panic. We're playing for less money, but it's not about the money. I think we are in a time that we need to support the tour" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/16).

    ROCKY ROAD: Castle Pines Golf Club Founder Jack Vickers, who founded the now-defunct PGA Tour The International event, said that he "would like to bring a high-profile golf event back to Castle Pines, but the economy has put any serious discussions on hold." Vickers: "We've talked about a Walker Cup. We've talked about the Presidents Cup. There have been a lot of different ideas. There's no target date, nothing in the mill." Vickers "did not rule out the possibility of returning an annual Tour event to Castle Pines" despite his "differences with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem." But Vickers "hinted it would have to be a tournament with enough stature to attract Tiger Woods on a regular basis" (DENVER POST, 5/15).

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  • League Notes

    Suspension Of Ramirez Leaves Some Owners
    Wondering Why There Is A Three-Strike Policy
    In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote, "Don't be shocked if a few [MLB] owners lead the charge to ask for a reopener of the drug policy or try to negotiate a stiffer policy when the current CBA expires" on December 11, 2011. The suspension of Dodgers LF Manny Ramirez has a "few owners scratching their heads on why there's a three-strike policy as opposed to a two-strike policy." Cafardo: "Most reasonable people are willing to give players a second chance if they've messed up with steroids. But three chances?" Another issue is that owners "can't recoup or void a contract of a steroid offender." That "will become an issue as well in the next negotiations." There "seems to be a flaw in the system that Ramirez knew about his positive test in April, but the team didn't for more than a month." While the policy is "designed to protect the players' privacy, Ramirez was still paid for several weeks after he knew of a positive test" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/17).

    BUMP DRAFTING: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote, "The semi-new Indianapolis 500 qualifying format, which was changed with all good intentions in 2004 to bring a hint of drama to the proceedings, just doesn't work -- even when the weather cooperates." It "doesn't work because four days are two more than are really necessary." The schedule that "makes the most sense is this: Open the track Sunday. Practice all week. Qualify en masse Saturday, have bump day on Sunday, then you have your usual second week, culminating on race day. On the two qualifying days, go back to the old days, when each car was given three chances to post a time" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/17). IRL CEO Tony George said of the new format, "It's added some interest and certainly suspense to qualifying. ... It makes it interesting on pole day when you have a situation where you are trying to lock in for 11 positions but you also have the poling of your time and go out and try to go for the pole or improve your position. So from that aspect, it's worked out well" (Versus, 5/17).

    DOOMED TO REPEAT? In Detroit, Drew Sharp wrote lessons from the '04 Pacers-Pistons brawl at the Palace at Auburn Hills "haven't been learned." Two seperate incidents at NBA playoff games last week "underscored the elements that triggered one of the ugliest days in sports." A Magic fan last week called Celtics F Glen Davis a "raging animal" after Davis "inadvertently brushed aside the man's 12-year-old." A day later in Dallas, some Nuggets players "contemplated going into the stands to protect their mothers and girlfriends" from verbal assaults from Mavericks fans. Sharp: "Why aren't fans being held more accountable for their contributions in these potentially explosive situations? ... There will come another time when a fan will cross that line, inciting an irrational response from a player, and we'll have Auburn Hills all over again" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/17).

    PLAYER REQUESTS: In Houston, David Barron noted negotiations are "under way" for a new AVP players' contract. AVP player Elaine Youngs: "The things the players want are really small. We would love to have a warmup court. What sport doesn't have a warmup court. We would love to get flights and hotels paid for. The international tour doesn't pay for flights but pays for hotels" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/17).

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