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Thompson in Turn 5: Time for Jeremy Mayfield to Fix Self – Forget NASCAR

The Jeremy Mayfield saga took an ugly turn for the worse Monday with the news that sworn testimony had been gathered from four men that claim to have first-hand knowledge that Mayfield did use methamphetamine on a regular basis. The three affidavits and one deposition adds credence to similar claims of drug abuse previously made by the 40-year old NASCAR driver’s stepmother. Mayfield had categorically denied Lisa Mayfield’s accusations and had portrayed her as a person with an ‘axe to grind,’ as well as being, in is opinion, criminally responsible for the death of his father.

Drug allegations came to light when Mayfield, driving for his own one-car team, failed a random drug test performed at Richmond International Raceway in May. From the time NASCAR informed Mayfield the following weekend at Darlington that he was suspended for violation of the sanctioning body’s drug policy, the Kentucky native has insisted that he did not, nor has he ever taken drugs illegally. Mayfield asserted that the positive results from the drug screening were due to a prescribed drug that he uses for ADHD (Adderall) and an over-the-counter allergy medicine (Claritin D) that he had used in combination prior to the testing in Virginia.

Whether Mayfield indeed had illicitly used methamphetamine has become a matter of frequent debate amongst followers of the sport. In fact, public opinion seemed close to being evenly split as to Mayfield’s innocence. Many within the stock car racing community sided with Mayfield and believed that NASCAR’s testing procedures were flawed.

Certainly the Mayfield case has put the spotlight on aspects of the NASCAR random drug testing policy. Issues concerning NASCAR’s reluctance to provide a readily available and definitive list of banned substances have come under fire. Likewise, the organization’s one-week delay in notifying the driver of the test results and allowing him to practice and attempt to qualify at Darlington have put NASCAR “under fire” as well.

However, though legitimate questions concerning the sport’s drugs testing procedures may still remain, the question of whether or not Jeremy Mayfield used amphetamines has now been adequately answered to the affirmative. Common sense dictates that one, or maybe even two, acquaintances might be bought, intentionally lying or mistaken, but it is highly doubtful that five individuals close to Mayfield would all be wrong or conspiring to ruin him.

In a deposition given with Mayfield and his attorney present, Mayfield’s former brother-in-law David Keith recounted witnessing Mayfield snort methamphetamine in his home, garage and car from 1998 through 2000. According to Keith, Mayfield’s drug use increased to daily usage.

Because Keith is an ex-in-law, it might be understandable to be suspect of his statements and discount his testimony as possibly malicious, not knowing the specifics of their relationship today. However, three friends of Mayfield have given sworn affidavits recounting drug use by Mayfield consistent with that of Lisa Mayfield and now, Keith.

Barry Lee, a friend from Kentucky, recounted having seen the driver use methamphetamine at least 50 times up to 2000.

Another member of Mayfields’s inner-circle, Michael Buskill, lived on the Mayfield property during 2006 and 2007 and also confirmed the drug use. In addition, another Kentucky friend Steven Russelburg stated, “During that time, I frequently saw Jeremy use methamphetamine, almost on a daily basis.” Russelburg said that Mayfield did not want his wife, Shana to know of his drug use and, “Most of the time this occurred at a barn on the property that had been converted to a shop”

Damning testimony to be sure. Mayfield has yet to offer a response to these latest accusations. Though, at some point he will have to surface and offer some feeble explanation for the avalanche of eyewitness testimony that pointedly contradicts his claims of innocence.

Jeremy Mayfield is in a corner and there will be no way for him to get out of it with his integrity completely intact. Many have rallied around him and even more have given him the benefit of the doubt as his story of a “false positive” was plausible. But the sad and startling truth is that Jeremy Mayfield is a user of methamphetamine and most probably has a drug problem that he now needs to face and deal with.

Why Mayfield has pursued the issue to the great extent he has is a question that may never be answered. He has offered heartfelt and courageous denials of drug use and vowed to fight the injustice of suspension from NASCAR even at great personal expense and with the knowledge that he probably never would compete in NASCAR again.

He and his high-powered attorney, Bill Diehl, have spent countless hours and, for Mayfield, countless dollars fighting NASCAR’s suspension of him every step of the way. He all but called NASCAR liars on numerous occasions on any number of issues, from when and if he had been notified of the drug identified in the original drug screening to how much time he was afforded to travel to a NASCAR approved testing lab for follow-up random drug screenings.

At any time Mayfield could have entered into a drug rehabilitation program and worked towards reinstatement in NASCAR. Instead, he chose to deny that he was in fact guilty and chose to lash out at anyone that said otherwise.

In addition to the new testimonies that NASCAR attorneys have provided the court, NASCAR has requested that U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen order Jeremy Mayfield to report for a psychiatric, neuropsychological and physical examinations by NASCAR selected physicians. Order or no order from the Judge, the Mayfield issue has all but come to an end.

To be sure, there is still plenty to question concerning NASCAR’s Drug Policy. Nevertheless, it did accomplish what it is intended to do – detect drug use among drivers and team members. It is not at fault for Mayfield’s drug use. Whatever the reason for Jeremy Mayfield to carry the ruse as far as he has, it is now over. The wife must know the truth that Jeremy tried to hide from her. There is nobody left to fool. The truth is out in the open, now.

If only NASCAR, in the first year of its augmented random drug program, had been in error! Programs are much easier to fix than are people. But that is now what Jeremy Mayfield will need to begin doing – fixing his problem.

And that’s my view from turn 5.

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