It is time for NASCAR to provide additional information about its drug testing process to protect drivers, sponsors, and most importantly, its integrity to the sports fans who support NASCAR. During the last positive drug test, AJ Allmendinger tested slightly positive for an amphetamine, a stimulant that can be found in both legal and illegal compounds. There have been references made by Dr. Howard Greller on Sirius NASCAR about a ingredient within Fuel in a Bottle, an energy drink endorsed by AJ Allmendinger. NASCAR needs to ensure corporate sponsors and fans that each driver is treated fairly based on each situation that arises, in this case, it just happens to be a positive drug test.
In a audio interview with Sirius NASCAR, Dr. Howard Greller, Board Certified in Medical Toxicology, references an amino acid found within Fuel in a Bottle (1). L-phenylalanine, a building block of protein has a similar backbone structure of an amphetamine molecule. The first drug test looks for a broad base of chemicals and does not narrow in on a specific drug. The initial drug test showed AJ Allmendinger tested slightly above average in the amphetamine category.
Based on the initial drug test finding, NASCAR’s Medical Review Officer, Dr. Aukerman, found enough reason to suspend AJ Allmendinger. NASCAR has not released any information on why this step was taken. The lack of transparency has clouded the view of NASCAR for drivers and fans alike. If NASCAR could take this step with AJ Allmendinger over a possible energy drink, what could happen to other drivers in future testing? Another sponsor in NASCAR, 5 Hour Energy (2), also contains phenylalanine. Is NASCAR working with AEGIS labs to test out the impact on phenylalanine within its drug policy? This information needs to be released to other drivers so future mistakes around supplements can be prevented. Furthermore, these results can prove AJ Allmendinger’s innocence or guilt.
Under NASCAR’s current drug policy, if sample B comes back positive, the affected driver will be indefinitely suspended. In AJ Allmendinger’s case, if Fuel in the Bottle (3), a product AJ endorsed, helped the 155 pound athlete fail the initial test, why should the suspension be upheld? What drug rehab is needed for a NASCAR driver drinking a supplement that he endorsed to help pay his bills? Furthermore, Dr. Black has been quoted with saying ‘Typically we (driver) talk once, and when they (driver) realize how hard the road is going to be, they give up’. NASCAR does not release this drug rehab plan to the public either, so the affected driver could be thrown under the bus by the sport he or she drove in to make a living.
NASCAR needs to publicly release information following the second drug test that confirms:
* If AJ Allmendinger tested positive for L-phenylalanine and if so, immediately reinstate him
* Update the drug policy to ban drivers, crew members, and spotters from taking energy drinks / shots
NASCAR’s reputation is on the line with AJ Allmendinger. Its decision will not only impact AJ’s career, but will impact corporate sponsors and drivers to change their investments and behavior. If its confirmed that AJ Allmendinger tested positive for L-phenylalanine, NASCAR should immediately reinstate him and make public all of the information surrounding his case to other NASCAR drivers. If not, NASCAR should assign the proper punishment.
Science proves that the the second sample B will come back positive. But will NASCAR use the same science to prove one of its own drivers innocence?
1) Sirius XM NASCAR, http://bit.ly/PWiwqR