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Monday 22, Sep 2008

  NASCAR announces new program for testing banned compounds, including steroids and other prescription drugs

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nascar-steroidsFrom the Journal Sentinel:

NASCAR will drug test all drivers in its three national series and its officials and require that all licensed crew members be tested before the start of the 2009 season as part of an updated drug policy announced Saturday.

Drivers, over-the-wall crew members and officials will then be subject to random tests throughout the year.

“We have made a very good policy even better with the addition of random tests,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in the announcement. “NASCAR’s policy has long given us the ability to test anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Random tests now provide us and the industry with additional information.”

Perhaps a decade ago, NASCAR described its testing as random, but in reality, some people were tested more randomly than others, if you get my drift. Within the past several years, though, the sanctioning body has been under increasing scrutiny after several positive tests, and it took a huge public relations hit when former Craftsman Truck Series driver Aaron Fike admitted to using heroin even on race days.

Aaron Fike and his fiancée Cassandra Davidson were arrested by police in July 2007 at the parking lot of the Kings Island, an amusement park in Ohio. According to reports, police officers became suspicious when they saw Fike’s parked vehicle with a towel draped at the front seat in an apparent attempt to cover up what’s happening at the back seat.

The action started when officers advised the former Craftsman Truck Series racer to get out of his truck and Fike refused to cooperate by attempting to drive off. Apparently, Fike’s ability to race the speedway dis not extend to parking lot, hitting a City of Mason officer in his attempt to escape. Subsequent search of the vehicle yielded drug paraphernalia, including a syringe filled with heroin. It was reported that Davidson was the one holding the syringe in an obvious attempt to use it on her when the officers approached the vehicle (talk about being caught red-handed). The two were charged of possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia and were arraigned a few days later.

NASCAR’s policy on substance abuse governs all drugs, meaning a competitor can be found in violation for the use of a prescription medication if NASCAR believes it has been misused.

Penalties will continue to include immediate suspension from competition. Even one positive test could result in a lifetime ban, but three will automatically.

NASCAR’s tests will be administered by AEGIS Sciences Corporation, a Nashville-based company established in 1986 as an anti-doping lab.

The announcement of the updated drug policy was made at the Dover International Speedway. AEGIS Science Corporation, the company which helped develop and design the organization’s substance-abuse program, will carry out all preseason and random drug screenings. NASCAR’s vice president of racing operations Steve O’ Donnell stated that a computer-generated list would be used at “most if not all” weekends to test “from 12 to 14 people”. From that number, an average of two drivers per series would undergo testing “with the balance coming from the ranks of over-the-wall crewmen and officials,” according to NASCAR’s official website.

The case of Ron Hornaday, another Craftsman Truck Series champ, could also be one of the reasons why NASCAR has adopted a more stringent drug policy. Hornaday tested positive for an anabolic steroid, which he reportedly used during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Hornaday, however, was not penalized because he had presented legitimate reason for using the banned compound. Hornaday has Graves’ disease and that the testosterone cream was prescribed by his doctors during the diagnosis of his condition.

Sunday 14, Sep 2008

  Failed steroid test prompts NASCAR to adopt stricter drug testing policy

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On the heels of the steroid controversy involving Craftsman Truck Series champ Ron Hornaday, NASCAR says it is ready to come up with a new drug policy and this time around the organization would like every car owner and driver to have a say in the matter.

The announcement was made during the media conference on Friday at New Hampshire Speedway.

Hornaday apparently tested for an anabolic steroids in the form of testosterone cream but he denied he used the banned compound to enhance his performance in the track. Hornaday said he used the substance during the 2004 and 2005 seasons to treat a ‘mysterious illness’, which doctors had difficulty diagnosing at that time. It turned out the illness was Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder characterized by goiter and ‘orange peel’ skin, which up to now Hornaday receives treatment for.

NASCAR’s current policy may be described as overly lenient – there are no random or scheduled screenings for drivers. It is only on grounds of reasonable suspicion that officials conduct testing for illicit compounds.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. sympathized with Hornaday, but he hopes a stringent anti-doping program will be implemented at NASCAR.

“I hope we get a strict consistent policy,” Earnhardt said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I would like to have drug testing every two weeks or something like that.  That would be awesome.”

“I want to catch somebody who is fooling around,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t want to be a jerk about it but I don’t want it anywhere around me. I don’t want to be involved in a race with anyone that’s not playing by the rules and not making good judgment decisions.I don’t really see anything right now that gives me reasonable suspicion and I didn’t before and then Ron comes out with his deal so maybe we need more than reasonable suspicion.”