Though NASCAR's drivers would like to see the sport's drug policy more transparent and more clearly defined, the sanctioning body isn't likely to make fundamental changes to the way it enforces the rules or releases information about failed drug tests.

The drug policy has been the focal point of discussion within the sport in the wake of Jeremy Mayfield's suspension May 9 for testing positive to what Dr. David Black, who administers NASCAR's testing programme, characterised as a "drug of concern." Based on the results of a test administered May 1 at Richmond, NASCAR suspended Mayfield indefinitely.

Also May 9, NASCAR announced the indefinite suspensions of crewmen Tony Martin (#34 Sprint Cup team) and Ben Williams (#16 Nationwide Series team) for failed drug tests.

Mayfield contended his positive test could have been the result of an interaction between a prescription drug and an over-the-counter medicine, but NASCAR discounted that contention.

Most NASCAR drivers would like to know what substance caused Mayfield to fail the test, but NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France disagrees.

"There is no benefit to the competitors, there's no benefit to anyone to jeopardise someone else's privacy," France said Friday during a question-and-answer session at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "If we thought there was a benefit, we would probably rethink that, but there is no benefit in our eyes to revealing the substance.

"What's important to know is that when it's serious ... it's going to be a very, very tough penalty. It's the toughest policy in sports."

Jeff Burton, however, said revealing the substance responsible for a driver's suspension could have a positive effect.

"If I'm not suspended, then I don't think anybody deserves to know anything," Burton said. "If I were suspended for marijuana, let's say, I think that should be released. The reason I say that is because what you don't hear in baseball and what you don't hear in football (both of which disclose substances) is 'I didn't do that; I didn't take whatever.'

"Once it's been released, you never hear them say they didn't do it. So there's credibility given to the drug testing. Our drug testing, if we released it, I think it would provide credibility to it. Now, it would potentially provide more harm or cause more harm to the individual that did it in some case, but they made that choice--and if it was a mistake, releasing that information only helps to explain it."

Ryan Newman agreed.

"There shouldn't be a mystery out there, in my opinion," Newman said. "This should be public knowledge, if we're going to do what's good for the sport, which is also what's good for kids who are out there that look up to NASCAR drivers.

"They need to understand what not to do. That's super important, in my opinion. I want to have a positive effect on kids, and adults for that matter. ... Knowing what caused the situation, I think is extremely important."

Many drivers also would like to see a specific list of banned substances, but the opinion there is far from universal. Though NASCAR provides a list of substances that must be tested for, the position of the sanctioning body is that any substance, whether prescription or over-the-counter, has the potential to be abused.

"Of course, we know the obvious, that drugs - real drugs - like marijuana and cocaine and things like that obviously are not OK," Brian Vickers said. "But when it comes to the statements that have been made to me, from NASCAR and the people enforcing the drug policy, that any drug can be abused, well, if I've got a bad headache, or a really bad headache, and I take more than the two (headache tablets), does that mean I lose my job?

"Give us a list of what we can and can't take, so I know what to do and what I can't do. I don't want to be afraid to take Tylenol when I have a headache because I have no idea what they consider drug abuse. Personally, I'd like to see a little more clarity in the program. I think it's a great program - I'm all for it. The last thing I wasn't is someone out there that's not in the right state of mind. But do I really care if someone takes three Tylenol instead of two? No. Let's not overdo it here."

Burton, however, said the absence of a finite list gives drivers more opportunity to provide reasonable explanations for positive tests.

"On the surface, I'm a big supporter of the list," he said. "But when you really start digging into it, and you look at what's happened to a lot of Olympic athletes - having to go to court and prove they were doing something and still losing--then the list becomes a little more cloudy.

"So it's a tough subject, but from my standpoint, I want flexibility. I want the opportunity to be able to explain what happened."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News