Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Jeremy Mayfield Controversy

I'm a NASCAR fan. There, I said it. I like the cars turning left mindlessly and endlessly in cars that are a throwback with not much futuristic technology in them.

NASCAR is pretty ruthless when it comes to controlling it's image, marketing, and just about everything else. So, Jeremy Mayfield got caught up in their new drug testing program. Jeremy claimed it was a combination of over the counter and prescription drugs that causes a false positive. The doctor - Dr. David Black of Aegis Sciences Corp., entrusted with the program released a statement claiming that explanation was impossible.

As a result, Jeremy is banned from competition as a driver and as a car owner - since he owns his own team. His wife Shana has taken over his ownership position at the track, and J.J. Yeley is his interim driver. NASCAR has not released any information about what the detected drug was, citing Jeremy's privacy as the reason, rather than HIPAA concerns. Someone did leak that it wasn't steroids.

Here is where it gets hinky for me. There is a comprehensive list of banned substances for crew members, but not for drivers. Jeremy now claims he has not been informed of the substance, either. NASCAR disputes this, claiming they have informed Jeremy of the offensive substance.

NASCAR's secretive ways are not a surprise - they have a tendency to obfuscate when the simple truth would have been far more productive. They claim if Jeremy wants the world to know what the banned substance was, he should report it. He claims he doesn't know. The NASCAR online and talk communities are pretty much aligned against Jeremy - he has been declared guilty. He has been an abrasive personality in the past, and has few friends in the garage. He wasn't happy while he drove for Penske, and was vocal about it. More famously were his allegations of a distracted Ray Evernham, involved in an affair with his young female driver Erin Crocker. Evernham switched Mayfield's successful team with the failing team of Kasey Kahne, and it didn't work, particularly with the owner away and playing. Jeremy alleged Evernham was having an affair with a female driver he had employed. Since Crocker was the only female Evernham driver at the time, that sort of narrowed it down. So, Jeremy has burned some bridges.

It's been a few days since college chemistry, but I do understand chemical receptors and gas chromotography and mass spectroscopy - which are what a lab uses to detect drugs. But, Diandra of Stock Car Science has a post up explaining it all, and why she supports the idea that NASCAR should make the driver's list of banned substances at least available to the drivers, and that they should release the information about the drug Jeremy is accused of taking. Go and read if you are interested at all, she does a fine job of explaining everything.

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