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Bob Pockrass, NASCAR Scene


Jeremy Mayfield urges everyone to look at him, look at his body of work as a race-car driver, look at his determination and look at the way he handles himself.

NASCAR says: Look at the urine sample.

In a rare public debate, Mayfield and NASCAR officials widely differed in their views on why his May 1 sample taken at Richmond International Raceway resulted in his immediate indefinite suspension as a Sprint Cup driver and team owner.

Mayfield said May 16 that a prescription medication, which he would not name, and two tablets of Claritin-D resulted in his suspension. He talked to reporters after reading comments by internationally known toxicologist David Black, who oversees NASCAR’s new random drug-testing program, and NASCAR Chairman Brian France that the test’s results couldn’t be explained that easily.

France said May 15 that violations of prescription and over-the-counter medicine have occurred with other drivers, and “most of the time, in that circumstance, it’s resolved and … would not invoke an indefinite suspension that Jeremy and others have gotten.”

“On the other hand,” France said, “if you fall into the other category [of drugs], as we say ‘a serious infraction,’ which a number of people have in either one of the areas – performance-enhancing or recreational at levels that Dr. Black believes violate the policy – that’s the end of the road at that point. They’ll be notified, and the process will then begin as it has for Jeremy.”

In response to France’s comments, Mayfield said: “That’s what he indicates [about my test], but they’ve indicated something different every day of the week. I’ve heard the same story y’all have heard. I really don’t want to say a whole lot.

“All I can say is look at me: I’m alive. I’m well. I’m the same guy I was Thursday night before Richmond, Friday night at Richmond, Saturday night at Richmond. I ran the race and I’m the same guy today as I’ve always been. My credibility should speak for something.”

The 39-year-old Mayfield, who has 433 career starts with five victories and two appearances in the Chase For The Sprint Cup, was asked if he denied using illegal drugs to cause the positive result.

“Am I denying it? Yeah, I’m denying it. Illegal drugs? Yeah, definitely,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield said that he has not received written notice of the drugs involved in the failed test, but NASCAR said he has been told three times over the phone what drugs are at issue.

The first time Mayfield heard about the failed test, May 7, he wasn’t too concerned, he said. He expected to have his prescriptions sent to NASCAR, and they would deem him clean. That never happened. Instead he sits on the sideline, and until further notice, J.J. Yeley will drive Mayfield’s car and Mayfield’s wife, Shana, will be the team owner.

“I’d like to be back in the car this week, as soon as possible,” said Mayfield, who qualified for six of the first 12 races in his first year owning his own car. “All I want to do is work with [NASCAR].

“They can drug test me anytime they want. I’ve offered that. Every day, whatever they want to do. … [But] I’m not going to rehabilitation. Why would I? Would you go to rehab if you didn’t have a problem?”

Black said that Mayfield will undergo an assessment with a health-care professional, who will determine his path to reinstatement. The path that got him to this point already has been reviewed, Black said in a phone interview May 11. Neither Black nor France would identify the drug at issue.

“There is a review for any test result to determine any legitimate medical need on the part of a participant …,” Black said. “We’re not dealing with a very difficult issue here with regard to what might affect someone’s driving and certainly would be a concern for NASCAR. We would only take action if indeed we found the presence of a drug that would adversely affect someone’s performance.”

Mayfield indicated he has spoken to others in addition to a health-care professional. He has talked with an attorney and has had independent tests done, including hair tests.

“It’s so frustrating,” Mayfield said. “I’m labeled now. The damage is done. It’s huge. My family, my friends, everybody [that] knows me knows better. It’s just been a huge, huge deal.”

After Mayfield spoke with reporters, NASCAR officials informed him he wasn’t allowed in the Lowe’s Motor Speedway infield while suspended. Mayfield complied with NASCAR’s request to leave the track.

“I understand their test policy, and I understand what they’re trying to do,” Mayfield said. “I totally understand it. I just wish that I had a little bit of consideration to explain to everybody what my side was. I promise I will.”