Mayfield might take legal action

Updated: May 22, 2009, 2:53 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CONCORD, N.C. -- The attorney for Jeremy Mayfield hinted Thursday he'll take legal action to have Mayfield's NASCAR suspension lifted.

Mayfield and attorney Bill Diehl met for more than an hour with NASCAR officials, who called the meeting. Although Diehl said the meeting was cordial, it did not get them any closer to resolving the issue. Mayfield was suspended May 9 for failing a random drug test.

"Jeremy doesn't believe that he's done anything that supports his suspension for the use of drugs," Diehl said.

NASCAR has not revealed what banned substance Mayfield used, and Diehl also refused to identify the substance.

Diehl did not say what his next move will be but strongly hinted at taking legal action Friday that will challenge the suspension and the validity of the drug test. He said he received copies of two toxicology reports this week from NASCAR.

"We're contesting everything that happened," Diehl said. "We hope that it's a mistake."

Some of Mayfield's fellow competitors wondered what a potential lawsuit will accomplish.

"The harsh reality of it is when a test comes back positive, there's not a lot of bickering about it. It's black and white," driver Greg Biffle said. "I trust NASCAR and the medical people and the testing agency that they have backup tests that they truly verify that they've made the right decision.

"I'm sure they've done everything in their power to make sure that the tests are accurate, and what they found was a not-approved substance, and I don't know what else there is to fight about," he said.

Joining Mayfield and Diehl at the meeting were four other Diehl associates. Representing NASCAR was general counsel Gary Crotty, assistant general counsel Karen Leetzow, Dr. David Black, administrator of NASCAR's drug testing program, and Steve O'Donnell, vice president of racing operations.

"I would agree it was cordial. We laid out the process," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "They want to get Jeremy back in the car, and there is a very well-defined program to do that. Jeremy needs to meet with Dr. Black and work that out, and if he is successful in that, he can get back in the car."

Mayfield was dropped off and picked up by his wife in a white Cadillac Escalade. When she returned to get him, a cameraman emerged from the back seat to film the scene. Mayfield, wearing black slacks and a long-sleeved dress shirt, smiled and exchanged pleasantries, but Diehl would not allow him to comment.

Mayfield has insisted that the mix of a prescription drug with over-the-counter allergy medication Claritin-D led to his positive result. Black, CEO of Aegis Sciences Corp., has repeatedly rejected that explanation.

NASCAR chairman Brian France has described Mayfield's test as a "serious violation" of the substance-abuse policy, and he categorized that as use of a performance-enhancer or a recreational drug. A person familiar with the test results has told The Associated Press the positive test was not for performance-enhancers, meaning the positive test resulted from an illegal recreational drug. The person requested anonymity because the test results were supposed to remain confidential.

Diehl said he believes no matter the final outcome, being labeled a drug user is irreparable to Mayfield.

"Have you ever heard of damage to reputation being undone?" Diehl asked. "I never have."

The driver, who turns 40 next week, has been out of steady work since his 2006 firing from Evernham Motorsports and reached into his pocket this season to create Mayfield Motorsports.

Thursday's meeting took place at NASCAR's research and development center, not far from Lowe's Motor Speedway, where Mayfield was banned. J.J. Yeley was scheduled to try to qualify Mayfield's No. 41 Toyota later Thursday in hopes of getting into the field for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.

But Diehl said legal action might be necessary to get Mayfield back behind the wheel or at the track in his role as car owner.

"That's what he does for a living," Diehl said.

Information from ESPN.com's David Newton and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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