- David Newton, ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter
- 0 Shares
This story has been corrected. Read below
CONCORD, N.C. -- Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield denied on Saturday that he took a substance that violated NASCAR's substance-abuse policy and plans to do whatever he has to, even if that means legal action, to override his indefinite suspension.
Mayfield, talking publicly for the first time since the governing body announced the suspension on May 9 at Darlington Raceway, denied he took an illegal drug and maintained that his positive test came from combining two over-the-counter Claritin D 24-hour tablets with a prescription drug.
"I'm going to move as quickly as I can," Mayfield said from the Lowe's Motor Speedway infield before Saturday night's All-Star Race. "Yeah, I'm denying it. Illegal drugs? Yeah, definitely."
Mayfield was randomly tested on May 1, the day before the Richmond Cup race.
"The good thing about it is hair grows back before Richmond," said Mayfield, explaining he has taken subsequent tests that will dispute NASCAR's claim. "You can take a piece of hair, and it will check back before Richmond. I swear I can't tell you any more. All I want to do is race and be treated fairly."
The 39-year-old driver said he has no plans to go through the rehabilitation process that NASCAR says is necessary for reinstatement into the sport.
"Why would I?" Mayfield said.
Mayfield, under the terms of the suspension, was not allowed into the Cup garage. He attended the race as a spectator atop the National Guard hospitality hauler in the infield.
"No suspended driver or crew member is permitted in any area of the track where NASCAR business or responsibilities are conducted," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "This includes, but is not limited to, the garage, spotter's stand, pit road, driver/owner lot and hospitality areas. There seems to have been a misunderstanding on Jeremy's part. NASCAR officials spoke with him, and he understands the rules of suspension and agreed to comply."
NASCAR chairman Brian France said on Friday that Mayfield's violation was for a "serious infraction," defining serious as a recreational or performance-enhancing drug. Sources said it was not performance-enhancing, leaving recreational as the only option.
Mayfield claimed he never was told by Dr. David Black, who runs NASCAR's testing program, what the drug was. A NASCAR official said he has a document that explains what he took. On Monday the official said that he was misinformed and Mayfield didn't receive written notification.
Black did not return phone calls Saturday.
"I never got anything saying what it was, no result ever," Mayfield said. "I've not received any information. They told me I was indefinitely suspended from NASCAR. If I want to be reinstated, see Dr. Black."
Poston denied that.
"All NASCAR members who violate the policy, including Jeremy, are notified of the substance that caused the failure," Poston said. "Jeremy was verbally informed of the substance on three occasions last week by NASCAR's medical review officer. NASCAR stands by the reputable physicians and the nationally renowned lab that handles our substance-abuse program."
Mayfield said Cup series director John Darby did not give him a reason for the suspension. He said Black told him the Claritin could have triggered the result.
Black has vehemently denied that is a possibility.
"Now it's not triggering it because I think they're a sponsor," Mayfield said of Claritin, one of the sponsors for Carl Edwards' No. 99 team.
Mayfield said he thought he had sent Black all the information necessary to explain his medical condition.
"I take a prescription drug, that's a legal prescription drug is what I take," he said. "I had allergies at Richmond that were really, really bad. Thursday I got a call from [his doctor]. He said, 'You tested positive for a certain whatever they call it.' I said, 'OK, no problem. I've got all the paperwork ready.' He said, 'If you fax it to us it'll cancel your [positive test].'
"I faxed all my paperwork from them, got in the car [Friday for practice and qualifying at Darlington]. I didn't qualify for the race. Next thing I heard, I got a call from Darby on Saturday."
Mayfield said he has requested his test results and has taken numerous drug tests that he claims he will reveal publicly at a later date.
"Just trust me on this," he said. "Here I am trying to do the best I can. I don't want to legally get myself in a situation where I could I'd love to tell you everything. Time will tell.
"I'm labeled now. The damage is done. It's huge. My family and friends, everybody that knows me, knows better. It's a huge deal. It's been frustrating."
Mayfield said he came to the track to watch J.J. Yeley drive the No. 41 car with the team he started before the season in the preliminary race to the All-Star event.
Mayfield's every move was captured by a local freelance videographer. The camera operator was approached by NASCAR Media Group, the league's television licensing arm, because he hadn't been officially cleared to shoot video during the race.
After providing his contact information, he was allowed to continue on. NASCAR owns the rights to all video captured at the track during a race weekend and reserves the right to confiscate those images if it chooses to.
When asked about the presence of the video camera, Mayfield replied, "We had that planned anyway."
In recent years, the Mayfields have openly expressed interest in doing a reality show, including projects with NASCAR Media Group.
The past week has been like a reality show for him.
"All I can say is you can see I'm alive, well and healthy," he said. "I'm fine. I'm here to watch my car run. I'd like to have been back in the car this week. All I want to do is work with them. I'll work with them any way they want. They can drug-test them any day they want. I'll go for it."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee contributed to this report.
In a May 16 story on ESPN.com, an unidentified NASCAR official was cited saying that Jeremy Mayfield had received written notice of his failed drug test. The official said on May 18 that he was misinformed and the driver had not received that notice.
Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield plans to pursue legal action that he hopes will override his indefinite suspension by NASCAR for violating the substance-abuse policy.