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.