Sources: Meth triggered positive test
NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamine during a random drug screening May 1 at Richmond International Raceway, ESPN The Magazine has learned from two independent sources.
In court documents filed in the past two weeks (Mayfield sought a temporary restraining order to return to the track; NASCAR countersued), it was revealed that Mayfield had admitted ingesting a double dosage of Claritin-D, an allergy medication, and the prescription drug Adderall XR immediately prior to the Richmond drug test conducted for NASCAR.
What it is
Methamphetamine can be taken four methods -- swallowed, injected, smoked or snorted through the nose. Smoking and snorting are largely preferred by "casual" meth users because they leave no tell-tale needle marks, and the high comes on more gradually and typically lasts longer.
Methamphetamine, according to the National Institutes of Health, can increase wakefulness and physical activity, as well as decrease appetite. Side effects include rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure.
Methamphetamine, according to the NIH, is similar to amphetamine in structure, but is different from cocaine. All are stimulants with similar behavioral and physiological effects, but with cocaine, the drug is almost completely metabolized in the body.
Methamphetamine has a much longer duration, and because more of the drug remains unchanged in the body, it is present in the brain longer and results in prolonged stimulant effects.
Mayfield claims the Adderall XR had been prescribed by a physician to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
However, a third drug came up positive during the urine-based Richmond test. The name of the drug in question has been redacted from court documents and was not specified by either Mayfield or NASCAR because of the conditions of a May 29 gag order issued in Mecklenburg County Superior Court in North Carolina.
Mayfield had filed for a temporary restraining order on May 29, asking to be allowed to compete while his case with NASCAR was ongoing. Judge Forrest Bridges denied the request. In the filing, Mayfield's attorney claimed the suspension was for amphetamines. During the hearing, NASCAR attorney Paul Hendrick described the unidentified drug as a "dangerous, illegal banned substance."
On May 15, NASCAR chairman Brian France used the words "serious infraction" in describing the failed drug test and said that the third drug came from within the categories of "performance-enhancing or recreational."
In a countersuit filed by NASCAR in U.S. District Court on June 5, NASCAR cited the side effects of the redacted drug as "excessive aggression or exaggerated self-confidence as well as numerous other physical and mental side-effects detrimental to the health and safety of a stock car driver."
Monday, ESPN The Magazine learned from sources that the unidentified drug was methamphetamine. Neither NASCAR nor Mayfield is allowed to comment because of the gag order.
Mayfield's attorneys contend that the failed test was a false positive test reading, triggered by either a mixture of the two acknowledged drugs ingested or by poorly executed testing procedures. In their lawsuit filed May 29, Mayfield's legal team pointed to Nashville-based AEGIS Sciences, the corporation contracted by NASCAR to conduct the league's random drug screenings, which were implemented for the first time this season.
AEGIS, which also is subject to the gag order, is not allowed to comment on specifics of methamphetamine testing as it refers to the Mayfield case, but its Web site does list two methamphetamine-specific urine-based test procedures.
Following the May 1 drug test, Mayfield drove his Toyota Camry to a 31st-place finish at Richmond the following night, completing 371 of the race's 400 laps. As part of the drug-testing procedure, he was asked to reveal any medications he was taking in order to avoid confusion during the analysis.
Mayfield said he informed the on-site testing administrator that he had taken two doses of Claritin-D within a short period of time prior to the test.
On May 3, Mayfield talked with Dr. David Black of AEGIS to inform him of the Adderall-XR prescription. According to the lawsuit filed by Mayfield against NASCAR and AEGIS, Black "expressed doubt that someone of Mayfield's age and experience legitimately needed to take Adderall."
Mayfield's attorneys allege that Black's reaction was unnecessary bias that could have tainted the testing procedure.
Because Adderall allows people to "hyperfocus" and continue to participate and concentrate on heavy physical and mental activity for long periods of time, it has been listed as a performance-enhancing drug in much of the sports world, including the NCAA, MLB and the Olympic governing bodies. NASCAR's list of banned substances has not been released publicly.
In 2004, Olympic sprint champion Justin Gatlin was suspended for what he claimed was Adderall use for ADHD. Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe received special permission from Major League Baseball while he was with the Boston Red Sox to take the banned substance after doctors convinced the league that he suffered from attention deficit disorder (ADD).
According to his lawsuit, Mayfield and the program's medical review officer, Dr. Douglas Auckerman, spoke on multiple occasions May 8, during which the racer admitted to becoming increasingly agitated about having to provide more details of potential drug use. He said he finally told Auckerman to do "whatever you feel like you need to do because you have done nothing but confuse me."
The following morning, Mayfield was informed of his indefinite suspension for failing the drug test at Richmond. That afternoon, the suspension was announced publicly at the Darlington Raceway infield media center. Among the first questions asked of Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president for corporate communications, was what drugs came up positive in Mayfield's test.
Hunter refused to answer, stating that privacy concerns outweighed any benefit or effect of making the substance public knowledge. The following weekend, France cited those same reasons for not revealing the name of the drug.
The two sides are waiting to learn their next date in court. Before filing its June 5 countersuit, NASCAR successfully petitioned to have the case moved from Mecklenburg County Superior Court to U.S. District Court. Because the presiding judge is on vacation, the case is not expected to be heard until late June.
Under the terms of NASCAR's substance-abuse policy, Mayfield cannot appeal his indefinite suspension, but can apply for reinstatement, a lengthy road that includes drug rehabilitation and counseling.
"I don't need to go to rehab," Mayfield told a group of reporters at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 16, a surprise track visit that violated the terms of his suspension. "Because I don't have a problem."
Ryan McGee is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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