Mayfield failed Richmond drug test

Updated: May 11, 2009, 8:58 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Sprint Cup driver/owner Jeremy Mayfield was suspended indefinitely on Saturday from all NASCAR sanctioned events after violating the substance abuse policy.

He is the first Cup driver to be suspended under the policy.

"As both a team owner and a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, I have immense respect for the enforcement policies NASCAR has in place," Mayfield said in a statement released Saturday. "In my case, I believe that the combination of a prescribed medicine and an over the counter medicine reacted together and resulted in a positive drug test. My doctor and I are working with both Dr. [David] Black [NASCAR's substance abuse policy administrator] and NASCAR to resolve this matter."

McGee: A Bold Statement

Zero tolerance. That's the message NASCAR boldly delivered Saturday at Darlington with the announcement that Jeremy Mayfield had been suspended indefinitely for failing a drug test, writes Ryan McGee. Story

"Mayfield Motorsports remains committed to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the organization will announce an interim owner and a temporary replacement driver early next week. Those roles will commence immediately beginning with next week's Sprint Open and continuing through Charlotte and beyond."

NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said alcohol was not involved in Mayfield's positive test. There were concerns around the garage that it came from Claritin D, an over the counter drug used for allergies.

Black said Claritin D is among the substances tested for, but he would not confirm whether that was drug Mayfield used.

"I will say we have a threshold from something like Claritin D, so it's a drug of concern," Black said. "It could be that if an individual used Claritin D to excess that would be reason for action."

Mayfield As both a team owner and a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, I have immense respect for the enforcement policies NASCAR has in place. In my case, I believe that the combination of a prescribed medicine and an over the counter medicine reacted together and resulted in a positive drug test.

-- Jeremy Mayfield, in a statement

Black said Claritin D can cause everything from a high heart rate to anxiety to a drastic change in body temperature.

"That would not be good for anybody driving," he said.

Mayfield, who did not qualify for Saturday night's Cup race at Darlington Raceway, received a positive random test last weekend at Richmond International Raceway.

He also failed a subsequent second test from the same sample. The results of that test were given to the governing body at noon and announced at a 6 p.m. press conference.

There is no appeal process.

Also, crew member Tony Martin of the No. 34 car that Tony Raines will drive on Saturday and Ben Williams with the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Nationwide team were suspended.

For Mayfield to return to the sport he will have to follow a program determined by Black. Black said the program would included extensive and intensive tests from a health care professional that could be "many, many months of participation in a treatment program.'"

"It's going to be a period of time," he said. "It's not going to be very fast."

More On Mayfield

• Jeremy Mayfield has won five Sprint Cup races in 433 career starts.

• Mayfield's most most recent victory came in 2005 at Michigan while driving he was for Dodge.

• This season Mayfield formed his own team, Mayfield Motorsports, and had qualified for five races, including the Daytona 500.

• Mayfield was 44th in Sprint Cup standings heading into Saturday's race at Darlington.

-- ESPN research

Mayfield started a new team this season when he could not get a ride. He was 44th in points, having qualified for five of the first 11 races.

Hunter said the suspension includes Mayfield as an owner as well as a driver. If he wants to put another driver in the No. 41 car he would have to step aside as the owner.

"His team could be operated by someone else," Hunter said. "But Jeremy will not be allowed to compete."

Mayfield has five Cup wins since coming into the top series in 1993. He finished 10th and ninth in the standings for then-Evernham Motorsports during the first two years of the Chase in 2004 and 2005.

He was released from EMS after a conflict with then-owner Ray Evernham in 2006.

NASCAR implemented a more stringent testing policy at the start of this season. Four to eight drivers randomly are tested each race weekend.

Elliott Sadler, who replaced Mayfield in the No. 19, said he feels for the driver and his family.

"But I do applaud NASCAR for this zero tolerance," he said. "As a racecar driver you want everything as safe as you can have it. I applaud them for stepping forward and standing behind their word.

"I hope it's a wake up call for everybody. We don't know what it is, if it's something that could be taken for a cold. Whatever you're taking, whether it's for allergies or whatever, you've got to make sure it's OK by NASCAR. As drivers we all know that now, so we've got to stay in tip-top shape and make sure we walk the line."

Team owner Joe Gibbs, who dealt with drug suspensions in the NFL as coach of the Washington Redskins, said the policy is good for the sport.

"But I'm always nervous, could it happen to someone on our team?" he said.

Hunter said Mayfield's test doesn't indicate there is a widespread problem.

"One of the things we said all along is we have a zero tolerance for our substance abuse policy," he said. "We made it very clear we are going to stick to that. & We believe it is working."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter