Nascar Driver A.J. Allmendinger Indefinitely Suspended
On Tuesday July 24th, Aegis Analytical Laboratories in Nashville completed it’s evaluation of A.J. Allmendinger’s ‘B’ sample provided by the driver several weeks ago at the Nascar event in Kentucky.
As with the first sample, this one too came back positive for what Allmendinger’s business manager, Tara Ragan, said was an unspecified stimulant, adding that the results “were within nanograms of accepted standards.”
Nascar defines stimulants as:
Illegal substances: stimulants (such as methamphetamine, Ecstasy), narcotics (oxycodone, heroin, codeine), ephedrines (pseudoephedrine), benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium), barbiturates, muscle relaxers, sleep aids (Ambien) and beta blockers. Drivers and over-the-wall crewmen also are tested for performance-enhancing drugs such as hGH.
It’s a shame that the substance has not been specified. Because in the minds of fans and the general public there is a big difference between heroin and Ambien, or hGH and a sports drink or health supplement. Many have speculated that Allmendinger’s positive results come from one of his health supplements provided by one of his sponsors, “Fuel In A Bottle“. This story has been reported by Jeff Gluck from SBNation in his article: AJ Allmendinger’s Energy Drink Sponsor: Our Ingredients Are Safe
In the statement issued by Tara Ragon she added: “This was not the news we wanted to hear and we will work to get to the source of what may have caused this. To that end, we have secured the services of an independent lab to conduct thorough testing on every product within AJ’s home and motor coach to find what might collaborate with his test.”
Nascar will issue a letter to Allmendinger concerning the results of the test and outlining the next steps which will probably include information concerning his participation in the organizations “Road to Recovery” program. The program is administered by a Nascar Drug Policy Program Manager. If Allmendinger accepts the letter, a program will be tailored to his needs for recovery and eventual reinstatement. So if the issue is from a sports supplement his program will be to stop drinking it?
Since Allmendinger is only the second driver to be suspended under Nascar’s Drug Policy program, how this impacts his participation and reinstatement is unclear. Will fans continue to support him? Will Penske or any other Team welcome him back with open arms? Again, doesn’t that depend on what the substance was that caused the positive results.
If the independent lab discovers what has caused the issue, and it turns out to be a product from a sponsor, how in the world will Nascar face that issue? And it will be an issue as it will put Nascar, team sponsorship, and the drug testing at odds with Corporations who have invested time and money into sport advertising. We have seen a number of instances of Corporations having to issue statements about Driver conduct. Now we may have a situation where the tables are turned and Drivers and Teams must issue statements about Sponsor conduct.
In the end, how all this will play out and impact Allmendinger’s career in the sport is a wait and see proposition. For this fan of Nascar, I think this shows a big flaw in their drug policy and testing procedures. I hope the research found by the independent lab will be taken into consideration by Nascar and it’s Drug Program Administrators. Hopefully they can use the information to tweak and hopefully improve their policy, criteria, testing and subsequent process for handling positive results.
If it does turn out that a legal “health supplement” caused this issue than everyone in a car or garage can be adversely impacted by what many will label as a bad policy. Which could easily effect highly popular and health conscious drivers like Jimmy Johnson, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and more!
It can also impact the credibility of the Drug Testing Policy as well. So Nascar is not out of the woods on this issue. Once again they too are being evaluated by fans and how they handle this issue. Scrutiny isn’t only for the Driver in question. Not to fans and especially not for fans of that driver.
The policy now may be seeing the opposite end of the spectrum from the first Driver suspension under this program. Allmendinger has succeeded where Jeremy Mayfield failed miserably. Even though both failed the drug test, Allmendinger has succeeded with both his attitude and approach to this situation. And because of that I do think he will emerge with continued respect from both fans and the industry itself. I hope I’m right, because I do think his situation has highlighted flaws in the over policy that need to be addressed for the survival of respect for a sport many of us truly love.
You can read more about Tuesday’s results from my favorite Nascar reporter at SBNation: NASCAR: AJ Allmendinger Indefinitely Suspended After ‘B’ Sample Tests Positive.
For Parents with young Nascar fans, you may want to read my article about talking to your kids When Sports Idols Fall From Grace. Don’t think you can wait till they’re teenagers to talk to them about the affect of drugs and the impacts they have on one’s life. That talk starts when they begin school in pre-school and kindergarten; where they will be exposed to drug abuse and it’s effect on kids and families.
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