Hornaday admits using testosterone, obtaining HGH
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Over a two-year period from December 2004 to January 2006, Ron Hornaday, the defending champion of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, received shipments of testosterone and human growth hormone from an anti-aging center that has been linked to drug-related scandals in the NFL and Major League Baseball.
Hornaday acknowledged taking testosterone when shown records from the Palm Beach (Fla.) Rejuvenation Center during an interview at his home in North Carolina on Tuesday, but he denied using growth hormone that was sent to his home for his wife's use. Hornaday said he used the testosterone to treat a mysterious medical malady that later turned out to be a hyperactive thyroid. The drugs were shipped to Hornaday's address in Mooresville from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center."I'd lost 38 pounds [in the 2004 season], and no doctor could tell me what was wrong," Hornaday said, adding that a friend encouraged him to consult with the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center. A local nurse came to his house to take his blood, he said, and forwarded the results to the clinic. Hornaday provided records to ESPN showing that the drugs were prescribed by doctors at the clinic within a day of that visit. Hornaday, 50, is considered one of the best short-track racers in the sport. He is 94 points out of first place in this season's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings. During the interview, Hornaday retrieved a 2-ounce tube from his house that was half-filled with a cream. The prescription label bore the name "testosterone," but was partially torn so that it did not show his name. The expiration date was listed as Sept. 29, 2007.
On Thursday, Poston issued a statement saying NASCAR officials would meet with Hornaday. The meeting is expected to take place Friday at New Hampshire International Speedway."NASCAR will meet with Ron to get a better understanding of his condition," Poston said. "Based on what we currently know, our outside experts have said the prescription he had did not enhance performance or impair judgment on the track. It's our understanding that Ron's very serious health issue is being addressed." Unlike the NFL and MLB, NASCAR does not do mandatory drug testing. Instead, it tests when officials have "reasonable suspicion" that a driver or crew member is abusing prescription or other performance-enhancing drugs. Steroids and human growth hormone were specifically added to its list this year. Earlier this month, NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said the organization will announce an expansion to its drug-testing policy in the near future. Kevin Harvick, who owns the truck team on which Hornaday drives, defended his driver, even while acknowledging that Hornaday had not told him he was using the drug in 2005.
Hornaday denied that he used the six 30-day supplies of growth hormone that also were sent to his house, saying they were for his wife. Lindy Hornaday, 49, confirmed that account and produced a plastic bag from their home containing a vial labeled as HGH, along with several syringes."This is the last of it I have," she said. "I threw the rest out when we were at Daytona a couple of years ago. It wasn't doing anything for me." The clinic records show that Lindy Hornaday received three separate shipments of HGH in her name in 2005. Haskins said that Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center was a favorite of athletes and bodybuilders because it provided easy and relatively anonymous service. "I hesitate to even call it a clinic," Haskins said. "I haven't been able to find any evidence that any of its doctors actually saw patients. It was all done over the Web. They had salesmen with crib sheets that said, 'How not to take no for an answer.' The doctors were afterthoughts. They just signed the forms the salesmen sent them." Haskins said the center was spending $30,000 a month on Internet advertising for steroids and growth hormone.
Robert Carlson, the doctor Lindy Hornaday said she talked with by phone, pleaded guilty in August 2007 to a felony count of insurance fraud after admitting to writing bogus prescriptions for clients, including athletes. The center's owners have pleaded guilty to related charges.All were sentenced to probation and have rebranded the clinic as Nationwide Synergy. The Hornadays said they have started receiving calls from Nationwide in the past month, asking them to renew their orders. "I told those people to stop calling us," Lindy said.
Last year, the NFL suspended two of the center's clients who admitted buying growth hormone: New England Patriots strong safety Rodney Harrison and Wade Wilson, the quarterbacks coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Another of the clinic's clients, then-Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd (now of the Boston Red Sox), was not disciplined by Major League Baseball because he received his final shipment of HGH a week before MLB banned the drug.Hornaday, a native of Palmdale, Calif., was brought into the Craftsman Truck Series by Dale Earnhardt in 1995. He quickly established himself as a hard charger, winning the title in 1996 and again in 1998.
In April of this year, ESPN The Magazine reported that Aaron Fike, who also competed in the Craftsman Truck Series, raced while he was high on heroin in 2007. Fike told The Magazine, "I've always said that if they tested 80 percent of the people on Pit Road, they'd find half of them were doing something."Shaun Assael, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine, writes extensively about doping in sports in his book, "Steroid Nation," available here.
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