Suspended: Allmendinger Claims Innocence
For the second time since its implementation in 2009, NASCAR has suspended a Sprint Cup driver for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.
This time it was A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing. NASCAR suspended Allmendinger indefinitely following a failed test at Kentucky two weeks ago.
The suspension was announced just hours before the start of the race at Daytona.
Sam Hornish, who drives in the Nationwide Series for Penske, was summoned from Charlotte to take the wheel for the Coke Zero 400. He will return to the car this weekend at New Hampshire.
Just like when Jeremy Mayfield was suspended three years ago, NASCAR did not announce exactly what Allmendinger tested positive for.
Allmendinger, in a statement released by his business manager, indicated that he tested positive for a banned stimulant and that it may have come from supplements he is taking. They are currently gathering his over-the-counter medications to prove his innocence, according to the statement.
Of course, Mayfield blamed his positive test for crystal meth on a mixture of Adderall that he was taking for this attention deficit disorder and Claritin-D, a common cold medication. Mayfield was later arrested for possession of meth.
Allmendinger has requested that his “B” sample be tested, and those results should be available next week.
If his second sample comes back clean, he returns to competition. If not, NASCAR makes his suspension permanent.
He will have to complete a regimen prescribed by NASCAR’s substance abuse program administrator, Dr. David Black of Aegis Sciences Corp. (the company that handles NASCAR’s drug testing), and NASCAR’s medical review officer, Dr. Douglas Aukerman, in order to be reinstated to race in NASCAR’s top-three series.
I hope his “B” sample comes back negative, but that’s doubtful.
Mayfield believed (delusional or not) that his second test would exonerate him. NASCAR takes this seriously, rightfully so, but doesn’t make moves to suspend drivers without airtight evidence.
Even if Allmendinger accidentally took a banned stimulant, that is still irresponsible. When you get to that level as a professional athlete, you have to be more aware of what you are putting in your body and how it affects you.
Before the test, drivers and other competitors have to disclose what prescription or over-the-counter drugs or supplements they are taking, so there shouldn’t be any surprises. There is too much at stake.
“It’s one thing to have a guy under the influence out on the basketball court or football field,” said Jeff Gordon back in 2009. “In the end, he’s probably just going to hurt himself. But you put someone like that in a 3,400-pound stock car going 190 mph?
“He could kill everyone around him too. I can’t think of a situation that requires zero tolerance more than that.”
Contact Andy Cagle at andy
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