Questions remain after drug suspension
NASCAR must be doing something right — the problem is that no one knows what.
One week after Jeremy Mayfield was suspended indefinitely for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy, the governing body's strict rules have received wide praise. But at the same time, they've raised concerns in the garage as competitors wonder what is considered legal or illegal.
For example, when it comes to "taking something as prescribed," Mark Martin wants to know "what does 'zero tolerance' mean?"
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"I think most of us would like to know what was on or not on that list," Martin continued. "I'm sure they have a good reason why there is no list. I'm not educated enough to be the spokesperson on all this stuff. I don't know.
"I haven't had any discussions with them about why there's not a list or whatever. Everyone just wants to make sure they're right and they don't accidentally trip up. I thought this thing was supposed to keep marijuana, cocaine, heroin and things like that out of the deal. That was my assumption of what the drug policy was all about."
But considering the number of drivers and crewmen that work out religiously, many have to wonder just exactly what supplements or ingredients could end up on a expanded list.
Edwards explains: "The number one thing is you just don't want a mistake to turn into something huge. You don't want something that you don't even know about affecting you as far as their drug testing.
"I think NASCAR realizes that. I get the sense that they will tweak this and make it better and better."
When Chairman Brian France addressed the media on Friday, he reiterated that NASCAR has "always had the toughest enforcement in sports."
"The drivers realize and understand — we go through this with them in the offseason — all of the various substances that would be off-limits if they should test positive, and then there are a variety of things that will be tested, prescription medications, whatever it might be, that our tests might show or demonstrate," France said.
According to France, "the drivers are encouraged" to talk to Dr. David Black and his associates at Aegis Labs in Nashville for explanations of or assistance with the testing. He also says many of the drivers already have taken advantage of that resource, contacting the labs to find out "exactly what they're going to be tested for."
Black is accessible for drivers and crewmen to call upon to discuss any concerns regarding over-the-counter drugs or prescriptions, and the lab also accepts samples for analysis.
Martin, in fact, followed up with Dr. Black this week about the use of an anti-inflammatory — which, he found out to his relief, is not a drug of concern.
"It's just a little bit scary," Martin said. "It's our careers, man. I'm sure that we're all overreacting a little bit, but certainly nobody wants to be caught up in that. People have allergies, people have whatever. They have injuries and stuff, and I'm sure that's all fine. Dr. Black says that's all fine, but it's still pretty scary. I made my call to Dr. Black this week. I'm sure there are a number of others, as well."