Going Green · Garrett Horton · Thursday November 3, 2011
Jeremy Mayfield is innocent. This ideal was what many people believed, myself included, once NASCAR suspended him over two years ago after testing positive for methamphetamines. I bought into his argument that an interaction between Claritin and the ADD prescription medication Adderall caused the test to result in failure. Not only that, but he doesn’t have the look of someone who uses hard drugs. You certainly wouldn’t expect his face to show up in the anti-drug programs run in elementary schools. Even after his second failed test later that year, Mayfield supporters still wanted to believe. Part of it was because of the driver turning the tables on NASCAR’s unpopular CEO Brian France, making claims that the sport’s head honcho was making an example of him. Things briefly looked good after Mayfield’s stepmother Lisa — who had previously testified against him, claiming she had seen him use on at least 30 occasions — was arrested for trespassing on her stepson’s property. There were just enough facts and claims to make it seem like that maybe Mayfield was telling the truth, that he was a victim in this whole deal.
This belief isn’t the first time I’ve been wrong before, but boy, do I feel like an idiot on this one. There are quite a few fans out there who share the same feeling; many also feel a sense of betrayal. In the following hours after the latest news broke, I went back, read, and watched some of his quotes from ’09. It’s easy to know now, yet I wondered how in the world I ever believed him. He lied to his fans, and his reputation took an ever greater plunge because of it. Now, the only people left that still believe him are the same people who believe that the U.S. attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11.
What am I talking about? Just in case you didn’t get around to the Internet or television yesterday, Mayfield was arrested Tuesday night on possession of methamphetamine. In addition, approximately $100,000 worth of stolen goods from a trucking company were found on his property. Mayfield and innocent will no longer be in the same sentence again. He has yet to comment, but his wife Shana, tweeted to some of her followers on Wednesday. Some of her responses regarding the situation included, “I’m as confused as u r,” “such a shady deal. Makes no sense,” and “…I am not in denial nor have I ever been.”
Darn, and I was hoping we might get a confession. Not that I am expecting one, but it’s the least Mayfield could do after lying to everyone and stabbing his supporters in the back. The crazy thing is a long time ago he could have just admitted to his drug use in 2009, apologized and moved on. And if he had done that at the very beginning, well, it’s conceivable he could still be racing today. For someone like Mayfield, who we all now know for sure has drug problems, it’s obviously easier said than done.
Undoubtedly, this five-time winner and two-time Chase participant is the biggest name in NASCAR to get suspended through their substance abuse policy. I don’t know what goes through the mind of a drug user, nor do I know any drug addicts personally, but denying any sort of usage seems to be a common theme. Just look at other sports, such as MLB and the steroid era in the late 90’s. Mark McGwire, whose record-breaking season in 1998 helped spark the steroid speculation, finally admitted to using just last year, 20 years after he first tried it. While his admission was way after the fact and was something everyone already knew, it was a step in the right direction. It made him look better than some of his colleagues who are still denying any wrongdoing.
Prior to Mayfield, the most notable suspension in NASCAR was Shane Hmiel, who ultimately got banned for life by the sanctioning body after failing his third drug test in 2006. To this day, he is the only driver to be expelled from the series for drug use. Hmiel became a feel good story a couple of years later when he returned to racing, competing in the USAC series, rehabilitated and sober. An unfortunate racing accident last fall nearly killed him, ending the comeback, but his reputation had been greatly repaired. He had moved on from his past and was back racing, a storyline all fans could pull for.
In all likelihood, Mayfield won’t follow that example, continuing to deny any drug use, and his new hobby, theft. With this most recent episode coming on his own property and not at a NASCAR facility, though, he can no longer blame Brian France and cry conspiracy. Any doubts there may have been about NASCAR’s drug testing policy have been erased, and now we don’t want to hear anything more from Mayfield’s mouth unless it’s a confession or apology. That would go a long way, but why should we expect that? He is going to find a new excuse and expect people to believe it.
Jeremy, you lost a lot of your supporters yesterday. This doesn’t mean we still hope for the best. Swallow your pride, admit you have been lying for the last two years, but most importantly, admit you have a problem and get help. For 17 years, you were part of the NASCAR community, and no one enjoys seeing your fall from the top. It is tragic, disappointing, and unfortunately appears to be only getting worse. If you have any respect for your fans, family, and most importantly yourself, you will do the right thing and stop running. You will quickly realize that more people will support you doing that… then what you are doing now.
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