The Mayfield mystery: Somebody’s fibbing

Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 3:16am

It’s one of the most intriguing mysteries in NASCAR history: owner/driver Jeremy Mayfield has been suspended for allegedly violating the sport’s substance abuse policy, but the former Nashville racer swears he’s innocent.

Mayfield says his reputation and his career have been falsely tarnished. He has hired a lawyer and gone to court to try to force NASCAR to reinstate him.

There’s no gray area here, no parsing of words, no wiggle room on either side. Mayfield flatly denies using any banned substance. NASCAR — or more accurately the doctor who oversees NASCAR’s Nashville-based drug-testing program — insists he did.

Somebody’s fibbing. And I don’t know whom to believe.

I’ve known Mayfield, 39, for almost half his life and he always impressed me as a clean-cut, ‘straight arrow’ type of guy. He moved to Nashville two decades ago from Owensboro, Ky., following the career path of his boyhood hero Darrell Waltrip. He raced at Fairgrounds Speedway and swept floors at Sadler Racing to support himself while pursuing his racing career.

He eventually migrated to Charlotte, N.C., and became a winner in NASCAR’s big leagues.

Having toiled so long and hard to build a career, would he risk flushing it down the toilet? Would he play Russian roulette, knowing full well that NASCAR conducts random drug tests? That’s hard to believe.

On the other hand, it’s equally hard to imagine that NASCAR would have taken such extreme action without the solid evidence it claims to have.

Dr. David Black who runs the testing program refuted Mayfield’s contention that he had taken some over-the-counter allergy medication that triggered the positive test. Black said the positive test result was not related to any over-the-counter drug.

NASCAR contends that it has the authority to ban any competitor for any sort of drug — legal or illegal — that could cause impairment. But it refuses to disclose a list of specific drugs that are banned, and some drivers complain that creates confusion.

So far, NASCAR has refused to disclose what drug Mayfield tested positive for, or to make the test results public.

Mayfield maintains his innocence and demands that NASCAR present the evidence on which it publicly branded him a druggie.

During Mayfield’s Nashville days I traveled to his hometown to research a feature about him. I visited his mom Judy at the hardware store she ran on the town square. I went to the old Owensboro racetrack where Mayfield, the Waltrips and the Green brothers raced as teenagers. I talked to Mayfield’s family, friends and old racing rivals. No one had a negative word to say about Mayfield.

The Jeremy Mayfield we’ve been reading about recently isn’t the Jeremy Mayfield I thought I knew.

Somebody’s fibbing, and it’s time to clear the air. It seems to me the burden of proof is on NASCAR. If it has the damning evidence it claims to have, it’s time to produce it.

Woody is a Nashville sports writer who has covered racing since the early 1970s.

Filed under: Sports

3 Comments on this post:

By: cmarcus45 on 6/4/09 at 7:42

I'm no Mayfield fan, but I certainly agree. It's time for NASCAR to pony up.

By: WayneJ on 6/4/09 at 9:59

Between this and the Carl Long fiasco, I'm wondering if I maybe shouldn't switch to ARCA.

By: SrRaceFan on 6/5/09 at 3:17

As to the two sides of the story, they may both be on the same page. Here's some info I received from one of my friends:

"Adderall is a prescription amphetamine used in the treatment of ADHD and it will give a positive for amphetamine and a false positive for meth. So there's the reason right there.

In reading through the court papers, apparently this Dr. Black said that Mayfield was too old to be treated for ADHD. I've never heard of an age limit on ADHD but I'm only familiar with children being treated for it. So I did some quick research. Adults are treated for ADHD with the use of stimulants (amphetamines are stimulants) or anti-depressants. Since anti-depressants might slow down Mayfield's reaction time, I can see why he would be prescribed Adderall."

It would appear that an amphetamine did show up on the drug test, but it was prescribed by a doctor, is called Adderall, and isn't an illegal substance such as cocaine, heroin, etc. Therefore:

Dr. Black found an amphtamine in the test, so he didn't fib.

Jeremy did not take an illegal drug, so he didn't fib.

Wonder on which side of the legal fence this will fall....