The Frontstretch: NASCAR Takes the Long Way Around the Barn With New Drug Policy by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday September 25, 2008

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NASCAR Takes the Long Way Around the Barn With New Drug Policy

Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday September 25, 2008


I came across a quote by Sir Barnett Cocks the other day that reminded me of the pansies that run NASCAR:

“A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured — and then quietly strangled.”

The “idea,” in this case, is NASCAR’s new drug testing policy and — while it was not strangled — it definitely had no business being in that neighborhood in the first place.

For years, NASCAR mouthpieces have said that they have one of the best drug testing policies around. As well they should… considering the environment of the NASCAR “workplace” includes 43 drivers going around at speeds up to 200 miles an hour.

“NASCAR has a zero tolerance for any type of behavior in violation of our Substance Abuse Policy,” President Mike Helton once explained. “While our primary responsibility is the safety of our drivers and our fans, we also have a moral responsibility to protect the integrity of our sport.”

That policy was challenged just last year, after Truck Series driver Aaron Fike was arrested for possession and use of heroin. But NASCAR’s Managing Director of Corporate Communications, Ramsey Poston, once again gave us assurance that their policy was more than enough.

“We have much broader authority than other professional leagues,” said Poston. “We can take action based on physical signs of droopy eyes, slurred speech, etc. And there aren’t many secrets inside the garage area, so in that respect, we have some help there as well. Everyone understands what it is. The action is swift and impacting.”

“No system is perfect,” added Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications. “Our current policy has served us extremely well. We do have discussions from time to time regarding possible alternatives, so I wouldn’t rule those out. But I think what our policy has allowed us to do up to this certain point in time has served us well.”

Truck Series’ driver Aaron Fike’s arrest for heroin possession opened a long-term debate that eventually led to NASCAR “reforming” its drug policy last week.

All those quotes were from the not too distant past, but the last one by Mr. Hunter was the understatement of the year — making him a prime example of an artful spinmaster. But wait! If you thought that was good, listen to what has been said since NASCAR announced its “amended” drug policy to go into effect in 2009 — words uttered by none other than the Master of Spin, Brian France. (Side note: BSNews has learned that Brian was once a Hip-Hop DJ at a local night club, and continues to occasionally scratch an album or two on amateur night. Look for a full story in later issues of BSNews.)

“We have made a very good policy even better with the addition of random tests,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “NASCAR’s policy has long given us the ability to test anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Random tests now provide us and the industry with additional information.”

Just exactly how dumb is this, man? Or how stupid does he think we are? Considering the old policy gave them the ability to test “anyone, anywhere, at anytime,” I would say that that was pretty “random” to start with!

So, what is so special about these “new” random tests, you ask? The answer’s simple: they are actually going to test someone!

Yes, the real and simple truth here is that the old policy, as it stood, was fine — by NASCAR’s own words, it gave them the authority to test anyone, anytime. As a result, the only “amending” that needed to be done in this case was to the accounting books! Because up until some negative publicity forced them to take a stand, NASCAR simply did not want to spend the money to test anyone.

For if the safety of the drivers, fans, and the moral integrity of the sport is their first and foremost concern, why does it take NASCAR brass many months to finally decide that, “Oh, maybe we should use our policy once in awhile?”

When Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and others said earlier this year that they have never been tested, why couldn’t NASCAR simply have said, “OK boys, let’s test everyone, right now?!” Why does it take months to come up with an “amended” policy? If France was so smart, and really wanted to keep his money, at the very least NASCAR could have mandated that the teams must provide independent proof that all track personnel have been tested at least once a year.

But France did none of that — instead, his sport decided to come up with an “amendment” that was really a repeat of everything they were supposed to be doing in the first place. So, while it is good that NASCAR has finally decided to actually implement the policy, it simply amazes me that the organization, as a whole, is run like a class A cluster #*@k.

And as for the teams, drivers, and NASCAR officials … party up, boys! You got ‘till February ’09 to clean your systems out!

Stay off the wall (and off the drugs!),

Jeff Meyer

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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Jeff Meyer
09/25/2008 01:42 AM

The Poll need a space for “its about time”

09/25/2008 06:05 AM

Its’ been said many times in many ways , but bears repeating . Can these bumbling fools be trusted to handle drug testing ? And moreover , can their rulings be believed ? Not just on the basis of the famous Tim Richmond fiasco , but look at how inept , and vindictive the everyday NASCAR rulings are . A botched drug test ( or intentionaly rigged one ) can and will destroy careers and lives . Does anyone really think NASCAR can be trusted with something so potentially important ?

09/25/2008 09:53 AM

Does this mean that King Brian and all who work for NASCAR will be open to drug testing too?? Interesting concept!Great column – thanks!

09/25/2008 10:51 AM

Hey Marshall!!!

Right on baby!

There is a very distinct reason their is no publicised “banned list”!

Just so NA$CAR can then interpret their “drug policy” according to who might fail it!

But of course we would never know who failed it now would we?

And this quote from Jim Hunter; “No system is perfect,” added Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications.”

Hey Jim “good” is not even in the NA$CAR dictionary, never mind “perfect”!

Jeff G
09/25/2008 02:20 PM

What the F*#$!!! Now I’m mad! As a fan since 1963 I have to speak out!

I’m NOT stupid!! NASCAR seems to think so though!!
This is another example of no rule book, making up rules as they go, and caring less and less about the fans as every year goes by.

Again, I’m really worried that Brian and company are so stupid!!! that they don’t realize how stupid they are!!

When Dale Sr. died, NASCAR started its slow death. I think I’m begining to hear the death “rattle”…

Steve M.
09/25/2008 02:30 PM

So, you’re telling me that when Kasey Kahne finally turns 21 in another couple of years and he celebrates by getting wasted on his primary sponsor’s product, Budweiser, the night before Qualifying that NASCAR has the opportunity to make him pee in a cup to see if he’s fit to drive? And if the test comes back positive for excessive Bud in his blood, then he may actually not be able to drive that weekend? Would Budweiser really want NASCAR to go to that extreme for a monumental celebration such as K.K.‘s 21st birthday? Brian France must be hanging around a lot with G.W. Bush, McCain and Obama cuz he certainly is letting the sh*t spill from his mouth as easily as what the forementioned three have been doing. And yes, like the forementioned three, he (France) expects us to believe him. If Jeff, Dale, Carl, TOny, Kyle, Jimmie, etc. were ever to be tested positive for any type of abuse we (the fans) would never know about it; unless it happened off the track, and even then, nothing happens (i.e. – Michael Waltrip wrecking his car in the middle of the night, walking home in his bare feet, and hiding from the cops till the next day….nothing happened to Mikey, NASCAR made sure of that). Oh, and the whole Kasey Kahne scenario was a joke folks :-)

Jeff Meyer
09/25/2008 07:26 PM

Steve M…..

Kasey Kahne was born April 10, 1980. He is 28

09/29/2008 06:35 PM


My concern is with this “new” drug testing policy. With the local racers that I have come across, they threaten to wipe out “all” local grass roots racing.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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