SBD/Issue 167/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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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