By Jenna Fryer
The Associated Press
CONCORD, N.C. - NASCAR chairman Brian France called Jeremy Mayfield's positive drug test 'a serious violation' of the sport's toughened new drug policy.
France said Friday he considers performance-enhancers and recreational drugs to be serious violations. But a person familiar with Mayfield's test results told The Associated Press that Mayfield did not test positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
That means Mayfield tested positive for a narcotic or a controlled substance, such as cocaine, marijuana or methamphetamine.
'We had a serious violation of our test, our substance-abuse policy, which gets you an automatic and indefinite suspension and that is where we stand with Jeremy,' France said. 'We've said it's serious. I don't think the word serious needs any more definition from me.'
Mayfield failed a random drug test conducted May 1 at Richmond International Raceway; he was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on May 9, when his backup 'B' sample also tested positive.
What happened between May 1-9 underwent some revisions Friday as NASCAR corrected its timeline.
NASCAR had said Mayfield was notified of the result May 5, but series officials now say Mayfield was not contacted until May 7, at which time he suggested the positive test resulted from the combination of a prescription drug and an over-the-counter medication.
More important, NASCAR officials say they did not learn of his positive test until May 8, when Mayfield was already at Darlington Raceway. Previously, NASCAR had said it learned of his positive test a day before Mayfield participated in two practices and a qualifying attempt.
According to the new timeline, Mayfield was told the morning of May 8 that his explanation had been rejected. NASCAR officials said they had a 2:30 p.m. conference call with Dr. David Black, the drug-testing program administrator; at 3:30 p.m. Mayfield requested his backup 'B' sample be tested.
Black, CEO of Aegis Sciences Corp. in Nashville, Tenn., which runs the testing program, vouched for NASCAR's amended timeline and said he wasn't sure why the initial outline was off.
The first suspension of a driver has many drivers confused and admittedly scared to take anything - be it multivitamins, protein shakes or allergy medications - for fear of failing drug test.
'Everybody is a little bit nervous about that right now,' veteran Mark Martin said. 'The small number of drivers I talk to are on edge right now based on what happened to Jeremy and not knowing.'
But France tried to reassure the drivers, explaining proper use of over-the-counter medication and prescriptions won't lead to NASCAR punishment.
'If you should test positive for over-the-counter medications or a prescribed medication that you are on with your doctor, that doesn't result in NASCAR suspending you,' France said. 'You will ... be asked to explain why you have a certain substance that was identified in a test. That's happened a lot, and it doesn't get you a suspension.'
Black was even stronger: 'A combination of an over-the-counter and a prescription drug does not somehow create a prohibited drug that magically appears in the body.'
He said he addressed almost all the drivers before the start of the season and provided his cell phone number so they could contact him at any time. Since Mayfield's suspension, Black said at least 50 NASCAR participants have called with questions about medications they take.
Martin said he called Black this week to ask about an anti-inflammatory.
'We have the liaison's numbers. We can call him 24/7 if we're fighting any ailment,' said two-time series champion Tony Stewart. 'We know we can call him and check and make sure the thing we're thinking about taking is OK.'
Three-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, who said he has been randomly tested twice already this season, said he brought a doctor's note of all his prescribed medications to his required preseason test to make certain Black's group was aware of any substances he uses.
Still, he was one of many drivers who called on NASCAR to reveal what Mayfield was caught using. France refused, saying protecting Mayfield's privacy outweighed any benefit in revealing the substance.
But there remained a strong call for NASCAR to create a definitive list of banned substances for drivers. Although a baseline list exists for crew members, NASCAR doesn't have one for drivers because it wants the right to test for anything.
Black said he could give drivers the prohibited substance list from the World Anti-Doping Agency. That would include thousands of unrecognizable medications, and Black suggested it's easier for the drivers to simply call him with questions.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. dismissed the need for a list.
'Nobody deserves no list. Don't do drugs. Don't do stupid stuff,' he said. 'It's stupid to do it anyways, regardless if you're driving race cars or not. It's a dumb idea. Just don't be ignorant.'