ANDY CAGLE: Yes to NASCAR's Stance on Drug Suspension
The word just scares me. And I'm not getting on a racetrack with someone who may -- or may not -- be using it.
Last week Judge Graham Mullen sided with Jeremy Mayfield in Federal District Court in Charlotte and issued an emergency injunction lifting Mayfield's suspension handed down by NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body's substance policy, allowing Mayfield to race.
Mayfield didn't show up with a car at Daytona (some emergency, huh?).
On Monday, NASCAR filed a motion to reinstate the ban, saying that Mayfield poses a threat to public safety if allowed to get behind the wheel of a race car.
In its motion, NASCAR argues Mullen based his decision on facts "outside the record, including the purported existence of reliable hair sample tests and same-day tests for methamphetamine."
Good for NASCAR.
I'm no lawyer or judge, but I think Mullen's decision to allow Mayfield back on the track sets a scary precedent that basically invalidates any sports drug testing policy.
And if there is any sport that needs a strong anti-drug policy it's NASCAR. It goes to more than a competitive advantage a la stick and ball sports.
It's all about safety. And someone who has used meth has no business on a racetrack.
"One thing I disagree with the judge on, my safety is important to me," driver Jeff Burton said.
"If there is an instant test available, then the judge is 100 percent right [to let Mayfield back]. There is no instant test. He potentially put my safety in jeopardy by that decision."
I've said it over and over -- driving a race car is hard. You have to have a greater degree of mental and physical acuity than most normal people possess. Even with that, you still have accidents and mishaps and people die. I agree with Burton, I wouldn't want a degree of my safety dependent on some guy who may be high. Just like you don't want your safety hanging on someone being drunk or high on the highway.
Mayfield contends that the positive meth test was a result of mixing prescription Adderall, a drug used to treat attention deficit disorder, and an over-the-counter allergy medicine.
I'm no chemist (then again, neither are most of the people who make meth) but I know that allergy and cold medicines are used in the production of methamphetamine in meth labs and Adderall is an amphetamine. Again, I'm no chemist but that makes sense that the two would give you a positive test for meth.
But I'm going to side with NASCAR. Mayfield had a duty to report the Adderall usage to NASCAR and failed to do so. In Monday's filing, NASCAR also said an expert for Mayfield said the "level of methamphetamine revealed by Mayfield's urine test indicates that Mayfield may be a chronic methamphetamine user."
To me that's indicative of more than mixing a couple of legal drugs.
All I know is that if the guy he hired to clear his name said his drug test indicated that he was a chronic meth user, I don't want to be racing against him.
Andy Cagle can be reached at email@example.com.
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