Sunday, May 10, 2009

Too Many Questions Surround Mayfield's Suspension

By Jerry Bonkowski
JerryBonkowski.com


I've weighed all sides, and still have a very hard time believing it's true that Jeremy Mayfield was caught with some type of illegal substance in his system.

But that's what NASCAR officials told us Saturday in a hastily-called press conference, announcing Mayfield, along with one crew member from another Sprint Cup team and also a crew member from a Nationwide Series team, have been indefinitely suspended from Sprint Cup competition after testing positive for having a banned substance in their respective systems.

I've known and covered Mayfield for years and like many of you, he'd be one of the last guys I would pick to be a drug user of any type, let alone an abuser.

I mean, on the surface, it doesn't make sense. Particularly with NASCAR's newly-implemented full random testing and zero tolerance policy that went into effect this season, how could Mayfield risk his status as both a driver and team owner simply for the sake of getting high?

No one is THAT stupid, especially Mayfield.

Even though it's small-budget, Mayfield still has a ton of his own money tied up in his race team. He also has a squeaky-clean reputation as a competitor. Granted, he had run-ins at Penske Racing and Evernham Motorsports that ultimately led to his being fired in both instances, but that doesn't mean Mayfield is a user of anything banned or illegal.

Let's think realistically for a second: if you were in his shoes, would you risk a reported $500,000-plus of your own money, risk the future of your new livelihood, not to mention sully the name and reputation of your sponsors, to get high?

Sorry, but Mayfield is no Shane Hmiel, Aaron Fike or the late Kevin Grubb (committed suicide this past Wednesday after never being able to earn reinstatement from NASCAR), who still are (or in Grubb's case, was) on indefinite suspension for substance use and abuse.

When NASCAR announced last September at Dover that it was going to implement a new, wide-ranging drug testing program, I applauded the sanctioning body. But like other reporters who questioned NASCAR officials, I had a problem that there was no list of banned substances that was forthcoming.

Essentially, NASCAR told us that "we'll know it's illegal when we see it."

Now, based upon various news reports, Mayfield claims that the two positive results from the same test he took last week at Richmond were due to an over-the-counter medication that he took.

I'm not going to name the medication, although it's widely known and widely taken by likely millions of consumers around the world – and taken legally and within prescribed or directed parameters.

But if that unnamed medication is indeed what tripped up Mayfield's test, doesn't NASCAR look like a hypocrite because the company that produces that product just happens to be a major NASCAR sponsor?

Explain that one to me.

Let me see if I have this right: it's okay for NASCAR and a major multi-car team owner to take big bucks from such a sponsor, run its commercials all over TV (and with a star driver endorsing the product as a regular user, I might add), but the product is reportedly among those that NASCAR considers to include a banned substance?

That's nothing short of ludicrous. And what may wind up happening? In its quest to get the drug testing policy right, and if Mayfield challenges and successfully wins an appeal and reversal of his suspension, NASCAR may ultimately wind up giving itself and the sport a huge black eye, not to mention looking like a horse's ass if Mayfield had already told league officials that he indeed was taking a LEGAL over-the-counter medicine.

Even if the "substance" contained in the medication was on NASCAR's banned list, that doesn't mean how Mayfield took it was illegal in any way, shape or form. Have we forgotten the quick rush to judgment last year when Camping World Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday Jr., was initially vilified for using a steroidal cream, even though it was legally prescribed by a doctor and taken as instructed by Hornaday.

Remember how quickly that fiasco faded when it was proven Hornaday did absolutely nothing wrong -- and then had to have his private life trudged through, and completely uncalled for? If that happened today, would we be talking about Hornaday being suspended like Mayfield, too?

How can NASCAR tell anyone what medication he or she can take if it's being taken within prescribed dosages and directions? In the rush to, in essence, fall in line with other pro sports leagues, did NASCAR rush to judgment or try to make an example of Mayfield?

Sure, in theory, the product may contain some components that might alter a driver's physical make-up, but at the same time, it also might not.

How many times have we purchased over-the-counter meds that typically come with a warning like, "Take as directed," "Results may vary," or "May cause drowsiness. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery while taking (the product)"?

It's up to us to make that determination that we're willing to risk -- or, at the very least -- understand the potential side effects, even though some of us won't fall prey to any of those so-called side effects.

I also find it odd that NASCAR had to announce Mayfield's suspension roughly an hour before Saturday's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, rather than wait until, say, Monday or Tuesday of this week. Given the fact Mayfield failed to qualify for the race and was not a competitor, why then all the hurry to out him?

An even better question is this: if NASCAR informed Mayfield earlier in the week that it was moving to suspend him for the alleged infractions, as various reports have claimed, why did it let him practice and attempt to qualify on Friday?

Mayfield will announce a temporary team owner and replacement driver to fill his two roles early this week. He hopes that the No. 41 team can continue forward while he fights NASCAR through legal means.

As I said earlier, I applauded NASCAR for implementing a tough new drug policy and testing system at the end of last year. But at the same time, I readily predicted that something like what has happened to Mayfield was going to occur sooner, rather than later due to the inflexibility of the new system.

There was too much gray area in how NASCAR was going to pick and choose what substances were considered illegal, not to mention it's zero tolerance aspect, that the sanctioning body went from an old system of rare enforcement to a 180-degree difference far too quickly, in my mind. The system needed slow tweaks and revisions to make it work optimally and provide drivers with the best format possible.

NASCAR also failed to publicly identify the alleged substance Mayfield is accused of using, yet another misstep. If the sanctioning body wants drivers, team owners, fans, reporters and anyone associated with the sport to have total faith in its decisions, then tell us so we can better understand and rationalize why NASCAR took the action it did.

Instead of just implying, "Well, it's what we thought was the right thing to do, but we're not going to tell you why."

One can make an argument that NASCAR was protecting Mayfield's privacy. But if he has nothing to hide – and I still say he truly has nothing to hide – I'm willing to bet that he would gladly allow NASCAR to identify the alleged substance so that he could fight the charges on a level playing field, not to mention show the inferiorities contained within the new system.

I predict Mayfield is going to successfully challenge NASCAR and will be back in a race car and running his own race team in a short while, maybe a month, tops.

If he has a good legal team, it may be even sooner.

But even if he's vindicated, Mayfield is always going to carry around the stigma in the court of public opinion that he was the first Cup driver caught and suspended, so plenty of folks are still going to say he had to have something to hide – even though he seems more than willing to show us just the opposite.

As much as I hate to say it, in a twisted way, NASCAR's old do-nothing (or very little) system may have been better with its simplistic approach, than the new one does with all the bells, whistles and so-called "improvements" it now has.

64 comments:

  1. Why doesn't Mayfield just get out in front of this story, and put the rumors to rest?

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  2. Good question, Tarmus. I think you'll see much more from Jeremy in the next few days. Obviously, he must consult with legal counsel first, not to mention medical counsel, before he can say much more of anything over and above what he said in his statement from late Saturday. We have not heard the last from Jeremy.

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  3. "Let me see if I have this right: it's okay for NASCAR and a major multi-car team owner to take big bucks from such a sponsor, run its commercials all over TV (and with a star driver endorsing the product as a regular user, I might add), but the product is reportedly among those that NASCAR considers to include a banned substance?"

    I guess you can't just come right out and say "Claritin" for obvious reasons. If this is the case, though, Jeremy Mayfield has some HUGE ammunition that he can fight back with......

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  4. NASCAR is the only sport with one rule in its rule book. The fact that there is no appeal process at all is NASCAR absolutism at its worst - it assumes they are perfect and everyone else is wrong. Guilty until proven innocent.

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  5. "Let me see if I have this right: it's okay for NASCAR and a major multi-car team owner to take big bucks from such a sponsor, run its commercials all over TV (and with a star driver endorsing the product as a regular user, I might add), but the product is reportedly among those that NASCAR considers to include a banned substance?"

    That is an interesting bit of logic there. By that logic, Bud and Jack Daniels would be OK.

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  6. I hope you are right, I have been a Mayfield fan since 1997, and I completely refuse to believe that he is a drug-user, even recreational. He is not a kid. He is a grown man with a whole lot to lose. Please keep up posted!

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  7. If you looked up “gray area” in the dictionary, the first item listed would be NASCAR. Why does it seem like they make up the rules as they go?

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  8. One problem is, is Mayfield makes Nascar look like a horses ass (even more of a horses ass) they (Nascar) will have it in for him the rest of his career. He needs to be carefull what he says. That probably is the reason we haven't heard much from him. I've never seen a drug policy that says "we'll know it's banned when we see it". Another example of the dictatorship making up the rules as they go. What a crock. There's no way Mayfield is a drug abuser.

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  9. Did they test Carl Edwards too? Betcha he takes Clariton.

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  10. the calls made by nascar officials during the darlington race last saturday/sunday suggests that they should be given drug test.!ie no yellow flag for kyle busch,hornish but yellows for lesser situations.

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  11. One thing NA$CAR, & Brian, who really put the ass in NA$CAR, have a real problem doing is admitting they blew it. I think they view Jeremy as very expendable.
    Even if he were eventually cleared, being kicked out of a race he had spent the $$ for, & qualified into, plus races he might miss pending resolution. That & the fact his sponsor will bolt. Will kill his chances. As I've said before, my favorite oxymoron is NA$CAR Credibility!

    dawg

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  12. The "D" part of Claritin-D stands for decongestant. The decongestant is psuedoephedrine which is available without a prescription, but kept behind the pharmacy counter. It is what the Meth-heads use to cook "meth". That is most likely why it flagged positive on the drug test. If he is on any other meds (prescription/non-prescription) the body may not eliminate the meds as quickly/efficiently and it starts to accumulate in the bloodstream. NA$CAR is putting these guys in the position of being fearful of taking ANY meds! What does Jeff Gordon take for his back? What do any of them take for a cold? If someone is taking medication under doctor's supervision, with a legal prescription, for legitimate health ailments the substance abuse policy is waived. Brian France wouldn't know a metabolic pathway from a hole in his behind. The NA$CAR doctor is probably nothing more than another "yes man". I hope Jeremy is being straight with us. It has exposed a huge flaw in what should've been a positive program.

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  13. Surely you are not suggesting NASCAR would shoot first, maybe aim later. They would never do that.
    mmark

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  14. Do you mean NASCAR, aka, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, mmark?

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  15. Jerry, if I was ever in trouble, I sure would want a friend like you to defend me. I guess it wouldn't matter what the charge, you seem to be for Mayfield regardless of evidence. With all due respect, you really have not looked at this from all sides. That's okay, it's your column, but I take a different view.

    First of all, take Mayfield's name out of it. Use someone you don't know or even hate. It is silly to say that Mayfield's reputation should cancell drug test results. I mean, that's the whole reason they are random and an outside lab is used.

    Let's look at the time line. Mayfiled was tested on a Friday. Results came back on Tuesday and he was notified. Mayfield said nothing. Two days later (Thursday), NASCAR was informed. Then on Friday ( a week after the first test) Mayfield asked to be tested again (the B test). He failed again. NASCAR notified on Saturday.

    This is hardly a rush to judgement by NASCAR.

    NASCAR does not do the testing. The whole thing is done by Aegis Labs, one of the biggest drug testing labs in the world. They do all the testing of NCAA sports in the US. From beggining to end, they handle the entire process. Individuals are identiefied by numbers, not by name. The whole thing is random so that favorites like Jr don't escape taking the tests.

    As far as taking a risk (your comment on Mayfiled), people always think they can beat the system. When Mayfield's test came positive on Tuesday, he did not request a re-test. He waited until the last day available to him and THEN requested the re-test. In his mind, maybe the trace of drugs would have been out of his system. WRONG.

    I worked many years for a corporation under the unbrella of the Dept of Transportation. We were subject to testing similar to NASCAR. There were many surprises, fisrt time guys who were 40 and 50 years old. That's why it has to be random.

    NASCAR cannot tell the drugs used due to privacy. You state Mayfield could give permission. I say forget the permission. Mayfield and spokesperson are in hiding. Why not reveal the drugs used? Something to hide? Instead, Mayfield has stated he and his doctor are "working with Dr Black of Aegis Labs." He did not say he would challenge the findings. If Mayfield wants to come back to NASCAR, he cannot be seen as in denial. Part of the process is for a person to recognize and treat the problem. I think that what Mayfield is going to do.

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  16. This is the very reason why I hate that the blogging software I use allows anonymous comments to be made. Folks can say what they want without identifying themselves or putting their ass on the line, just like I do each time I write something.

    But, I'll respond to your comments, anyway -- and am also notifying you and others that I'm leaning quite heavily towards eliminating the anonymity process for comments. If that means less people commenting, so be it, but I'll not allow my Web site to be used as a source of misinformation or give others free form to criticize if they're not willing to back their responses up with their real identity.

    First of all, you seem to know a lot more about the testing procedure Mayfield underwent than any other report I've seen written or broadcast anywhere. I'd really like to know where you received this information, particularly the timeline. When I first read your note, I had to wonder if perhaps you were from NASCAR or Aegis.

    Second, of course the second "test" is going to come back positive, given that the source was the original sample from the previous Friday. It's incredulous to think that a sample will come back positive one day and negative several days later if it's from the same sample batch.

    Third, from various reports I've seen and heard, Mayfield was consulting with his legal team -- which likely was also seeking other independent medical experts to counter Dr. Black and Aegis' assertations. I can completely understand why that would have prompted him to wait until Friday to ask for a re-test, or why they've laid low up to this point.

    And let's make sure we have our semantics right here: re-testing the original sample (Test B) and taking a brand new test are totally different. I question whether NASCAR allowed Mayfield the opportunity to take a brand new, unadulterated test. If there seemed to be as much discrepancy between the original results and Mayfield's explanation of why he tested positive, then NASCAR should have erred on the side of caution and requested he take a brand new test at Darlington. To my knowledge, that did not happen.

    But had that scenario occurred, I'm willing to bet Mayfield would gladly have consented to taking the test if he truly had nothing to hide.

    My stance on Mayfield has nothing to do, per se, with our friendship or that I choose not to accept NASCAR's explanation. You mentioned that you worked for the DOT for many years. Well, I took a drug test several years ago for a new job in the media field at the time. I failed that test, even though I have never taken an illegal drug in my life, not even marijuana in my youth like many of my peers in the media have done -- and the same hypocritical peers that are criticizing and vilifying Mayfield now. Hell, I hate to take aspirin when I have a headache or the flu.

    How did I "flunk?" Simple to explain. Besides being a writer, many people both in NASCAR as well as long-time readers know I spent over 20 years as a fully-sworn and certified police officer in Illinois. About a week or two prior to the drug test I took, I was involved in an arrest that included a suspect who had marijuana on his person. In the course processing him, my hands came into contact with the pot. The THC contained in the pot -- which is typically what triggers a positive reaction in drug tests -- seeped into my system through the pores in my skin. I had to go to great lengths to prove my innocence (not to mention it taught me a huge lesson: to wear gloves when touching that stuff from that point on).

    So, as you can see, the system can be flawed due to oftentimes innocent circumstances. I'll be the first to vilify and criticize Mayfield if, indeed, NASCAR comes out and tells us what substance he is accused of having in his system. If it turns out to not be related to either prescribed medications or over-the-counter meds, yes, I agree, Mayfield should be severely punished.

    But from the so-called evidence we've heard so far, I'm sorry, but I still believe Mayfield is innocent until proven guilty ... if he's guilty in the first place.

    Feel free to debate me about this ... but if you're going to do so, at least be man or woman enough to state your name so that we're both on equal footing here. If not, I have no other choice but to consider your opinion worthless and the "facts" you supposedly present as also being worthless.

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  17. This is nas$car at it's most hypicritical and ludicrous. Mayfield has already come out and said he was taking something as prescribed(think Ron Hornaday. Mayfield is the last driver I would have suspected of failing a drug test. one thing you have to remember. Nas$car's ru7le book is written in pencil. One more thing. If this had been Jimmy Johnson or some other name driver, do you think you would have heard a whisper of this?

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  18. sorry for the anonymity, but your little box wouldn't let me comment without using anonymity. I tried to use my web name. I'll try again.

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  19. Michael: Thank you for your note. If you cannot enter your name in the drop-down box, just include your name at the end of each comment you send. Ideally, I'd prefer a name and location to be included. Thank you for your courteous note. I wish some of those who prefer to hide behind the mask of anonymity had more guts like you.

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  20. JERRY
    FIRST OF ALL I THINK YOU RAISED ALOT OF GOOD POINTS I HAVE KNOWN JEREMY FOR 13YRS AN I CAN TELL YOU THAT JUST ISNT WHO HE IS BUT WHAT I CAN TELL YOU IS THAT IS THE WAY NASCAR IS A BUNCH OF DAMN CLOWNS IT ALL DEPENDS IF YOUR IN THEIR GOOD OLE BUDDY CLUB I HAVE SEEN IT FIRST HAND HAVING BEEN IN THE SPORT FOR SOME 13YRS THE SAD THING IS IT DONT GET ANY BETTER I KNOW THIS THERE ARE AFEW THEY SHOULD CHECK BUT WONT CAUSE THEY ARE THEIR SUPERSTARS SURE WOULD LIKE TO TELL YOU WHAT I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  21. Jeez louise, what a rant! What's going on here, some kind of bromance between Jerry and Jeremy? Seems to me like you (Jerry) are jumping to conclusions--that the "substance" found is one that is a legal ingredient in over-the-counter meds. What if it was in fact, say, an opiate, which has no legal non-prescription use? What if they discreetly asked Jeremy, after the positive result, for a prescription, and he couldn't produce one?

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  22. Jerry, Some of the information on Mayfield came from AP story written by Pete Iacobelli found in dailymail.com.

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  23. Jerry,

    New pole for your site:
    Anonymous postings: Yes, or No.
    You’ve got one NO vote from me.

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  24. Jerry, always respect your thoughts.

    Have you heard anything new?
    Have you adjusted your take on the matter.

    I'm a small time regional racer, who owns and runs my own team, and to put myself in mayfield's shoes, i just can't put my head around this...
    Such pressure, and so little time in the day for prep. Was it Claritin D and say.. Vivarin?
    -Steven

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  25. Jerry as a police officer previously surely you of all people are aware that drugs that are completely legal can be abused and also that a legal drug can still cause a driver to be impaired which is why a substance might be on the banned list even if it's completely legal.

    And if Jeremy was taking completely legal drug that was prescribed to him why didn't he make NASCAR aware of it so that if he was tested there wouldn't be any issues?

    Also, Dr. Black from Aegis Labs stated in USA Today that there was "no way" that a driver could test positive if they used allergy or cold medications as directed.

    It's admirable that you're defending your friend but Jeremy may be the one who made the mistake not NASCAR. Regardless of whether he successfully challenges his suspension or not hopefully he'll be back at the track.

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  26. Jerry-
    I used Anonymous at times simple because I could not figure out the format to have name listed at the top. Maybe some instruction would help.
    Matthew Mark
    Darnestown, MD

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  27. Pseudoephedrine (found in OTC cold medications) can cause a positive result for Methamphetamine when present in urine concentrations of 100,000 ng/ml or more. The dosage required to achieve such a high concentration in an individuals urine would most likely prove fatal.

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  28. elena from chicagoMay 11, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    In the published comment from Jeremy Mayfield, he was VERY complimentary of Dr Black. He just said he was "working" with him. I think Jeremy knows that the only way back to NASCAR depends on Dr Black's recommendation. I'm not sure why all the anger out there, Jeremy sure does not seem to be displaying it. His best bet is to complete whatever program Dr Black recommends, and he'll be back.

    Elena from Chicago

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  29. Deborah: While I respect Dr. Black, for every doctor that says there is "no way" a test could be positive, there's another doctor and/or lawyer that will disagree and say "yes, way."

    This has nothing to do with my friendship with Jeremy. It has everything to do with giving him a chance to give a legitimate explanation. Thus far, the statement he released to the media on Saturday seems to indicate just that. I can understand why he's not said much since then. He's building his defense, which any person accused of something has the right to do.

    NASCAR says there is no appeal process if someone is found to have a positive test. How many similar tests in the everyday world have proven to be false? I co-hosted a show Sunday on Sirius NASCAR Radio and had several callers tell us about how they took similar tests, were found to be positive, but once there was more investigation into the substances, they were quickly vindicated and the results were disproven.

    That's all I'm saying about Mayfield. He deserves the opportunity to vindicate himself and disprove the findings, if indeed he's telling the truth, which I firmly believe he is.

    If he's in the process of doing that with his legal team and talking with other medical experts, than let's give him the time to mount a defense.

    If he ultimately comes out says, okay, I screwed up, or that it was not related to a cocktail of prescribed meds and over-the-counter meds, then yes, I agree he should be suspended.

    I'll even go a step further.

    If he indeed lied about the prescribed and store-bought meds, then not only should he be suspended, he should also be further penalized for lying to try and cover himself.

    But for now, I'll believe Mayfield.

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  30. Elena from ChicagoMay 11, 2009 at 11:29 AM

    I remember when the drug policy came about. Everyone is the garage seemed to be for it. Even Mayfield has agreed with it. I've looked all over Google to see if somene complained about the lack of a list or the no appeal process, I found none for those 2 reasons. Also drivers were told to notify of any meds they were taking. I believe it was part of their baseline at the beginning.

    Jerry, I am a retired teacher and my husband was a police officer. I cannot tell you how horrified and surprised we have been when someone we worked with turned out to be a crook. My husband was a poligraph examiner for the department and really thought himself to be a good judge of character. Wrong.

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  31. Elena from ChicagoMay 11, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    Oops, did not preview. I meant polygraph not poligraph.

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  32. Elena: Thanks for your comments. I agree, there've been several people in my life that wound up doing things I would never have believed they were capable of. It happens. I'll give Jeremy the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise, if he does -- which I don't think he will.

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  33. And, by the way, just for the record, I have no control over the Google ads (for drug treatment centers, etc.) that are running with this thread and the one about the late Kevin Grubb. I do find a certain irony, though, in those ads being posted. .... Jerry

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  34. I'm not a Mayfield fan but i'd hate to see Nascar make a mistake that will surely kill whay is left of Mayfield's career. I believe that driver's and Nascar should allow the substance that was found to be released to the public and that would eliminate the speculation.

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  35. I agree Jerry while it's none of our business what they tested positive for, I think drivers should have a chance to prove their innocence.

    Even if it doesn't change NA$CAR's mind at least it would give him a chance to clear the air.

    Some point to the discrepancy of his crew member who was fired earlier this season, but I don't recall news of the crew member protesting his innocence. While not a big Jeremy fan I do feel sad for him.

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  36. I will wait to rush to judgement on this for many reasons, the biggest is human error. The tests themselves can be flawed chemically, Samples can be contaminated, there are humans that in the normal performance of the day on the job that make mistakes even in "Controlled Environments"!

    As many in the Media and in the Sport have stated this is a critical point in Mayfields Career and Life, irregardless of guilt or innocence, like him or hate him, We should all be open minded and wish him the best until it is over and clsed. None of us would want to be in his position at this moment in time.

    I wish David Poole was still with us to provide his position on this! RIP David!

    Jerry keep blogging, I admire you for commenting publically on this issue! I agree with several key points you made and really do wish the sanctioning body would set forth in Ink rather then Pencil a permanent set of rules.


    Pete in Nashville, TN

    P.S.: Some instructions on posting might help others to post also.

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  37. Luke - Syracuse, NYMay 11, 2009 at 12:52 PM

    Back in the late 70's, a friend was supended from HS for posession of marijuana. The school used an independant lab to test the substance found on him.
    His family hired a lawyer who had the lab test various substances...all of which came back positive for THC. NONE of them were marijuana and one was actually crushed pencil shavings! He then had the Indiana State Police test the substance and they came back with what he had claimed it to be all along...clover.
    Perhaps the testing business has become more accurate in the last 30 years, but I would be far more inclined to believe in NASCAR if there was a more open discussion about the tests and results.
    Luke-Syracuse, NY

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  38. Anonymous said:

    "What if it was in fact, say, an opiate, which has no legal non-prescription use?"

    Actually this is wrong. Look at the chemical makeup of loperamide (Immodium). It contains an opiod receptor agonist. Make sure you know what you are talking about before you speak ...

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  39. Thank you for this article, Jerry. Far too many just assume that since Jeremy failed the test, he must be an avid user. I've seen so much flaming of Jeremy in comment sections on other sites, it's refreshing to come here and not see that. I think this article is keeping the flamers away.

    I have been a Mayfield fan for many years, and I just cannot see him using drugs, especially at this time in his career. I hope this gets settled quickly. Jeremy's taken enough criticism for his past actions.

    On a side note, I just saw on Jayski that Dr. Black says that it's unplausible that what Jeremy took could have caused the positive test. He said that he has never seen the combination of Jeremy's OTC and prescription meds lead to those results. What a crock of crap. I think he's trying to cover his, Aegis', and Nascar's butt.

    Again, thanks for the article.

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  40. Jerry, thanks for speaking out on this issue. I've been a Mayfield fan for many years now and it really hurts to see him villified so early in this process.
    I find it hard to believe that someone so passionate about his profession (ie his tears for merely qualifying for Daytona this year) would knowingly jeopardize everything he has worked so hard to achieve. That being said, if he is guilty of what NASCAR has claimed, then he needs to take his medicine like a man and jump through every hoop NASCAR puts in front of him to get himself reinstated.
    The lack of an appeal process in situations like this is a bit unnerving. How can Jeremy get this ruling reversed, if he is innocent?
    Keep up the great writing!
    Brian S.
    Central Virginia

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  41. Elena from ChicagoMay 11, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    I think that a lot of negative comments about Mayfield's positive results have been directed at NASCAR. That's not where they should be directed. NASCAR just reported the results and suspended Mayfield based on the reports.

    For all the errors folks are siting, maybe they should look at Aegis Labs. They are the largest lab of its kind in the US and one of the largest in the world. If Aegis makes a bunch of errors, those errors would make headlines.

    I have heard about errors in labs that were not done correctly or contaminated. Some of these labs have gone out of business. So far, no one has said that Aegis has a history of errors. Most of what I hear is "kill the messenger", which is NASCAR.

    We do know that it is not alcohol or performance enhansers. We do know that it is a "drug of concern."

    NASCAR was right in turning drug testing over to experts. Mayfield and his lawyers will have to go after Aegis Labs and their report.

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  42. "Drug of concern" says it all in my opinion...if they are already concerned regarding the substance supposedly found in Mayfield's samples why has it not been listed by NASCAR as a banned substance. And while I do not know Dr. Black's credentials I think it is fair to ask what his qualifications are for saying that Mayfield's prescription and the OTC have never produced this type of result. Is he in fact an undercover pharamacist?

    There are so many questions that need to be answered before Mayfield is crucified for what was most likely a spur of the moment decision to relieve allergy discomfort. I know that he is not a pharmacist so how would he know that this particular combination of drugs would produce a positive result. Also, if the "drug of concern" warrants a treatment program then shouldn't the average consumer be warned! Talk about rediculous!

    I am sorry but NASCAR is just trying to make Mayfield fade into history with no appeal process.

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  43. lets not forget the last driver to experience NASCAR's less than informed heavy hand. Tim Richmond was virtually written out of the history books through NASCAR pressure. Isn't the first time they've done this and won't be the last.

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  44. I think it is fair to ask about Dr. Black. He has extensive experience as an expert witness in local, state, national and international court cases involving drug use and testing.

    He earned his undergraduate degree from Loyola College in Baltimore and doctorate degree in forensic toxicology from the University of Maryland at Baltimore. Dr. Black is a diplomat of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology (D-ABFT).

    Info available at aegislabs.com

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  45. Dr. Black holds a PhD in Psychology. He is NOT a medical doctor. He does not have a medical degree to back up his assertion that its "unplausible that what Mayfield took could have caused a positive test." He may be excellent at helping addicts recover from substance abuse, but that's not the same as having experience on how legally taken, prescribed drugs inter react. He has already stated that Claritan is a "drug of concern," which certainly isn't good for Carl Edwards, who is on TV 50 times a week proclaiming he "drives Claritan clear," or NASCAR. When NASCAR announced its new testing policy last year, it was ridiculed by many in the medical profession. Now we see why. Thank you Jerry for reminding us that all isn't black and white, especially in NASCAR.

    Kathy/PA

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  46. Jerry, I was so glad to find your comments about Jeremy. I have seen too many "experts" make BIG mistakes in their field. Nascar makes a new rule to suit whatever they want, when they want. I heard the media tell the name of the OTC on TV right after the press conference 1 time, but it has not been repeated since then. Nascar thinks they have the power to do anything they want. This is wrong, it is hurting Jeremy and no one knows the truth about anything. Jeremy has always seemed like a great guy and I will not take Nascar's word(I do not trust them on ANYTHING). I hope Jeremy does try to get help to get this settled. If he was taking something that he shouldn't then I agree with him being suspended, but right now what I have seen and read makes me believe Nascar was wrong to make the announcement until it was investigated further and they all received some answers, especially from this particular drug company.
    Linda
    Smithdale, MS

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  47. I'm sure there is fuel to the fire when it comes to the suspension of Jeremy Mayfield. There are entirely too many legal issues to not have the guy with some unapproved substance in his blood stram. It's not about Jeremy or his at best diffcult personality, it's about the drug test. I hope the guy does not have a problem, it's not something that I wish on anyone. I don't believe for a moment that NASCAR has it in for him, or for anyone. The rules are simple, and as a member you have to abide by them.

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  48. It fascinates me that last year NASCAR was wrong to have a policy that was too vague for testing for drugs, now they are wrong to have a policy that is too inflexible. Sure does seem that NASCAR just can't get it right to satisfy the media no matter what. Of course taking a new test a week later would likely prove absolutely nothing.

    Jeremy M and NASCAR could both be completely correct in the statements they have made - but drugs can have unintended results from interaction. I just heard Elliot Sadler say that every NASCAR driver has Dr. Black's cell phone number so that he can call the doctor whenever he has a question. I'm not really a Mayfield fan, but in the end I hope that his error was only that he took medicines when he should not have, or in the wrong combination, or when an alternate medicine might have handled his problem but without running afoul of NASCAR's drug policy.

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  49. smokefan_14 (MS)May 11, 2009 at 7:02 PM

    Jerry, Thank you so much for your article about Jeremy. I have been so frustrated since the announcement was made on Saturday. It is hard for me to believe that Jeremy was abusing drugs. You put in writing what I've been saying since Saturday. If NASCAR knew that he had not passed the drug test, why did they let him practice and attempt qualify for the race. Also, why let the sponser continue to sponser in Nascar with the commercial being played all the time during the race. I just wish everyone wouldn't jump to any conclusions until all the facts are in.

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  50. I work in the juvenile court system and have learned a lot about UAs over the last 19 years. First, the person lists all substances that they are taking so that the tester can see if there is anything that might cause a false positive. If the drug test yields a positive, it is often sent in to a lab that can break it down even further to isolate out the chemicals. So if a person claims that a medicine reaction caused the positive, that can be ruled out. That is also the reason for a back up sample so that further testing can be done to verify the validity of the first test and to look for any causes for the result. the testing can also check the concentration of the substance, as most tests have a cut off limit for positive. So if someone's test is off the scales, it's more likely than not that it is a true positive.

    Taking another test a couple days later or even a day later won't work. There are many drugs that only stay in a person's system for 24-48 hours, depending on their metabolism and there are also some thing which claim to clean out the system. so a later drug test really doesn't mean anything. A hair stat test can also be used to determine if the person is using as this can detect illegal substances for several months, but it doesn't work too good for testing marijuana. Hair color, bleach, straighteners can all affect the test, and we are always seeing people who shave their entire body - which in my mind means that they must be using to resort to such extremes.

    As far as he had too much on the line to risk using, that argument simply doesn't work. I work with people everyday who risk losing their children permanently because of their drug use. Many of them do. Many of them look like every-day normal people. the stereotypes about a drug user/abuser/addict are not accurate. So don't be fooled by appearances.

    I'm not saying he did or didn't use drugs. But I can't imagine that nascar would institute a policy without considering all of these things. I'm sure they are using much better testing than what the average courthouse uses. And as far as them not naming the drug, that information would be protected by HIPPA, so they cannot say what it is unless Jeremy authorizes its release, which I doubt he would do and no one should criticize him for this.

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  51. I find it extremely interesting that Dr. Black has changed his position from stating there was no way a combination of prescribed and OTC drugs could cause the testing results to such a combination "WOULD NOT NECESSARILY PRODUCE SUCH RESULTS." I also find it very interesting that he places such confidence in NASCAR's drug testing policy, which is based on urine samples. Especially in light of his comments, concerning his involvement with the WWE, to Fox News Greta Von Susteren in 2007, "DR. DAVID BLACK, AEGIS SCIENCES CORPORATION: Well, you can't interpret urine of any drug, as to whether or not it's therapeutic. That has to be assessed in the blood compartment....... You can't really assess therapeutic use out of a urine sample. All can you say is that there was use.
    Not quite the same as his stance about Mayfields' A and B sample, now is it?

    Kate from NJ

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  52. Kathy/PA, Dr Black has a PhD in forensic science. That's what he does. No one in the lab is an MD. They deal with the science of evedence.

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  53. Michelle, you are so right about those who think the loss of material things will stop people from abusing drugs. Just look at Manny Rodriguez, he just lost $8 million dollars and maybe more on endorsements. That did not stop him. Jeremy had nothing like that kind of money.

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  54. I won't rush to judgement because I am old enough to remember the witch hunt that NASCAR perpetuated on Tim Richmond.

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  55. Jerry, count me in as voting against anonymous comments. As for Mayfield, the person who brought up Tim Richmond has a good point--we've seen NASCAR on a witch hunt before, though I don't know what their agenda would be with Mayfield. At the same time, as Ricky Craven said on TV today, everybody in racing knows that all you have to do is call the NASCAR nurse and ask if it's ok to take something BEFORE you take it. And Craven and Mike Wallace both said they have done that and KNEW that that was the policy NASCAR had told them to use--and that all drivers knew that. So why didn't Mayfield just pick up the phone? There's a big gap in this story, and it's not just the missing list of banned substances...we need to hear the full story.

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  56. Really enjoyed your article about Wm. Perry. Thanks.

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  57. I hope Mayfield thanks all the drivers that have supported him through this i.e. Jeff Gordon,Kevin Harvick,Ryan Newman and Jimmy Johnson. These guys are a joke. They just threw him under a bus going 200mph.

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  58. Jenna Fryer said on tweeter that the owners all got a list of banned substances. As an owner, I think Jeremy would have gotten the list. Maybe with all the work of starting a team he had not read it yet. But of course he had Dr Black's cell number.

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  59. I cannot blame drivers for trusting the lab results. They don't want an impaired driver on the track. Kevin sure worded it strongly. So did John Andretti. These guys have know Jeremy for many years. I thinkk they know Jeremy more than fans do.

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  60. They also trust Na$car. Enough said. I would say Junior should be under suspious of drug use after his pit road problems.He has that deer in the headlight look a lot lately.hummm

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  61. How can you have a secret list of substances that you can check participants for and fail them in a test? The concept is ludicrous. Imagine if we had no posted speed limits on roads, and cops could just pull you up and fine you because they thought you were going too fast. Even if teams were given lists, where are they? Why hasn't someone "leaked" one? What do they detail - the actual underlying chemicals or products that contain them? If the lists actually exist. Would a small struggling team have the resources to handle all the data?

    The nascar way is just pure lynch mob though. No trial, no evidence, no defence. They are a law unto themselves.

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  62. The problem with a large company such as Aegis is that they have a high turnover of samples. The method they use for most of their urine drug testing (GC/MS) can be hampered by contamination and/or instrument reliability issues caused by the sheer number of samples being analyzed during a run. I have personally run such equipment and have encountered these problems. It seems a shame that it will be up to Jeremy to prove his innocence, when it could very easily be quality control or sample mishandling issues with the Lab.

    suzanne, indiana

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  63. Jerry,

    I posted this comment in your Auto Racing Daily article on the subject. I will post it again here.

    Reading the article in Nascar.com titled "Suspended Mayfield Tabs Yeley as Interim Driver" I came across a telling tid bit of information.

    In that article Dr. David Black - NASCAR’s drug Czar - is quoted as stating about the drug screening program: "It's a big, expanded profile of drugs, and also the testing is done at very low testing limits because of a safety concern."

    If the testing is done at low limits with an expanded profile of drugs it is very plausible to consider that Jeremy is being truthful. It is possible that the aggressive screening process caught a hint of medication - over the counter and / or prescription - legally prescribed to and taken by Jeremy Mayfield for a personal medical concern.

    If this proves to be the case, NASCAR owes Mayfield a profound apology and there can be little doubt that a real dramatic scene is playing itself out behind a drawn curtain.

    It is an unfortunate situation. Mayfield’s underdog story is model for those that persist in their efforts to attain their dreams no matter the odds against them. And as a Jeremy Mayfield fan, it is hard to believe that he would squander the opportunity he has to resurrect his career with his own team and sponsors for something so stupid and fleeting.

    Until there is irrefutable proof that this man is a liar and a cheat, I will reserve judgment and support Jerry Mayfield. This objective approach is something sorely lacking in NASCAR’s inherently flawed policies and a foreign concept to the hypocritical mindset within the sport’s participants (and some fans) and the media covering it all (who should know better).

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  64. I could be wrong but Carl Edwards' sponsor is Claritin, not Claritin-D. There is a distinction between the two products. Only Claritin-D has psuedoephedrine, which may or may not be the substance detected in the drug testing.

    If I am wrong about Carl's sponsor, NASCAR might be hypocritical about its own guidelines if in fact psuedoephedrine is on their banned list. If I am right, Card Edwards and Claritin should not be a part of this discussion.

    With the banned list being kept in secrecy and Jeremy Mayfield suspension, if I were a driver, I would be calling for approval before ingesting ANYTHING in the future.

    "Hello, I'm about to drink a glass of milk. I don't know if the cow that produced the milk ever had been injected with any hormones designed to produce more milk or not. Is it safe?"

    Granted, that would be an extreme example but suspending someone for having psuedoephedrine in their system is a pretty extreme example too (if in fact that does prove to be the case). I've grown tired of NASCAR's lack of accountability in recent years. Without further disclosure from NASCAR, this is just another reason why my faith in NASCAR is fading.

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