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Although driver fails drug test, NASCAR lets him hit 173 mph

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A day after learning Jeremy Mayfield failed a drug test for something other than a performance-enhancer, NASCAR allowed him to drive a race car at Darlington Raceway at speeds up to 173 mph.

A person familiar with the test results told The Associated Press on Thursday that Mayfield’s positive test was not for a performance-enhancing drug.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because NASCAR won’t reveal what banned substance was found in the random test, which ultimately resulted in Mayfield’s indefinite suspension.

NASCAR officials previously announced the drug violation was not alcohol-related, and the administrator of its drug testing program has dismissed Mayfield’s explanation that the positive result came from a mix of a prescription with an over-the-counter medicine.

Under the sport’s toughened policy, that leaves the possibility that Mayfield tested positive for abuse of a prescription drug, narcotics or controlled substances, such as cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

Ryan Newman called on NASCAR to reveal the substance.

“There should not by a mystery out there,” he said before the annual Pit Crew Challenge. “This should be public knowledge. If we’re going to do what’s good for the sport, which is also what’s good for kids that are out there that look up to NASCAR drivers, they should know what not to do.

“That’s super important to me. I don’t know the whole story for what’s happened. Knowing what the penalty is, knowing what caused the situation is extremely important.”

Because Mayfield challenged the initial positive finding, as allowed under NASCAR’s drug policy, the series did not take disciplinary action until his backup “B” sample also tested positive. That’s why Mayfield wasn’t barred from participating in two practice sessions and qualifying session May 8 at Darlington.

“There are limitations as to how quickly the process can be brought to conclusion,” said Dr. David Black, the administrator for NASCAR’s drug-testing program. “The practical reality is there is going to be a delay. In an ideal world, if the world were perfect and there was a possibility of an instant answer, we’d be able to take immediate action.”

NASCAR finds itself in a unique position in its first season under the toughened drug policy.

Other major sports leagues must focus on the effects of performance-enhancing drugs on their traditions and records, but the abuse of recreational drugs and the altered states they create can present an imminent danger in NASCAR, where 43 drivers are on the track at once, racing at high speeds.

Drivers had mixed feelings about whether Mayfield should have been allowed on the track while his “B” sample was analyzed. Newman called it “scary,” because he wasn’t sure what effects the substance might have had on Mayfield. Brian Vickers said he had no issue if NASCAR deemed Mayfield competent to drive.

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