Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday December 6, 2006
Editor’s Note : With Jeff Meyer off this week, we figured it high time to open the vault and let out one of Jeff’s best opinion pieces of the year a second chance. Ironically, that’s what the article’s all about…written in September, it shows that not everyone was ready to hang Kevin Grubb out to dry after failure to adhere to a drug test left him suspended indefinitely from the sport. As of now, though, that’s where Grubb remains…unsure if he’ll ever be allowed to race in any of the top three series again.
Hidden behind the big story to come out of Richmond this past weekend, Tony Stewart missing the Chase for the Championship, was a second, more troubling piece of news concerning Busch Series driver Kevin Grubb. It was announced Tuesday that Grubb had been suspended indefinitely from NASCAR a second time for failure to follow the sport’s drug policy for reinstatement.
Grubb was first suspended in March of 2004 for testing positive for banned substances in violation of NASCAR's substance abuse policy. He was reinstated to drive in June of this year, with part of the conditions of that reinstatement being an agreement that he submit to periodic drug testing at anytime.
Last Friday, after a crash on lap 2 in the Busch race, Grubb was taken to the infield care center, where he was treated and released. Apparently, sometime while he was being “treated” and before he was released, Grubb refused to submit to a NASCAR drug test.
“He was on a program where he agreed to be tested at any time,” said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's Vice President of Corporate Communications. “He, for whatever reason, refused to be tested.” Hunter went on to say that several attempts were made by doctors and “medical liaisons” to get Grubb to submit to testing.
On the surface, one might think that this sounds like an open and shut case. However, as with most anything, there may be more to it than meets the eye.
“I don’t remember most of being at the track,” Grubb said when reached for comment. “I had people pulling me in 20 different directions. I ended up leaving, from what I understand.”
Kevin says that he woke up on Sunday, still feeling “terrible” and not really sure what day it was. Grubb further states that he then went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion. “I’ve been clean the whole time,” Grubb said. “The next day, once I found out all the things that happened, I offered to take it. I’m ready to put the ball in action."
Now, as I see it, there are a couple of different trains of thought here that a person might choose to board. The first is that Kevin actually did have something in his system and wanted to give it time to clear. Some substances, such as cocaine, do pass through the system relatively fast, while others, such as marijuana, do not. If stalling to hide his drug use is the case here, Kevin knew what he was doing, and the suspension is justifiable.
However, what screams out at me through this whole thing is NASCAR's timing for the test in the first place. Is it the general practice of NASCAR to administer a drug test immediately after a crash? I don’t believe that’s the case. It should be mandatory for anyone that crashes and goes to the infield care center…but I doubt it’s part of the proper procedure administered for everyone once they get there.
Another question that must be examined is the treatment of Grubb at the infield care center. NASCAR states that he was treated and released. If Grubb went to the hospital on Sunday and is found to have a concussion, what does that say for the diagnosis and treatment he received at the track? If the concussion is in fact legitimate and the track doctors missed it, one could come to the conclusion that more emphasis was placed on trying to get Kevin to submit to drug testing than actually examining him.
Now, I am not jumping to conclusions one way or the other. I am just saying that there are a few questions that need to be looked at before the racing community looks to hang Kevin Grubb from the nearest flagstand.
“I worked very hard to get my life back to where it was,” said Grubb. “I don’t see it being thrown away in one night.”
Neither do I.
Stay off the wall, (and the drugs!)
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