Sunday, July 15, 2012

Will NASCAR's Integrity Be Tested by Allmendinger Decision?

I don’t want to debate whether AJ Allmendinger is ‘guilty’ or not – that’s not my call. No one has all the facts of the case right at the moment, or knows the context of the information we have been given. And maybe I’m in the minority of AJ fans, but I think NASCAR is going through the process appropriately. This article is not intended as a criticism of anything that has happened to date.

This article is about the future, because NASCAR’s sanctioning body will soon make a judgment call that will set a precedent for any offenses against the substance abuse policy; a precedent that will have to remain consistent throughout their enforcement of the policy if they want to maintain their integrity. NASCAR drivers are watching and waiting. Team owners are doing the same. Sponsors, officials,  and crew members are all hanging in suspense to see what happens next to driver AJ Allmendinger.

Speculation is rampant on social media sites that the cause of AJ’s positive test for stimulants was due to either a supplement or energy drink that he uses as part of his normal regimen of training. If that’s the case, many drivers and crew members who fall under the random substance abuse testing of NASCAR probably consider themselves lucky not to be in the same boat as AJ, since supplements and energy drinks are a staple for most athletes. And it seems that no one, not even AJ, knows for certain why his levels tested “slightly above the threshold” as stated by his business manager.

At this stage in the process, it now falls on toxicology experts to determine the precise cause of AJ’s positive test. If it can somehow be proven that the positive occurred because of a mis-dosage on an over the counter supplement or energy drink, it’s going to be up to NASCAR to determine AJ’s punishment. That’s a big decision. That’s when the NASCAR brass will have to determine if they’re going to follow the spirit in which the rule was implemented, or if they’re going to take a hard line no matter what the extenuating circumstances are.

When NASCAR’s current substance abuse policy went into effect in 2009, the purpose was to protect the safety and well-being of the competitors, officials, and spectators. That’s a noble effort for which NASCAR should be applauded, and I won’t ever argue against the intent of their policy. Safety should be one of their top priorities. But is safety an issue in this particular case? Is AJ deserving of an extended suspension and rehab for possibly drinking one too many energy drinks?

That's the kind of decision NASCAR is facing. When all the facts of AJ’s positive test come to light, how is NASCAR going to determine the scope of his punishment? Do they take into account whether or not there was intent on his part? When they’re determining the threshold for what’s allowable under their policy, do they make adjustments for differing heights and weights for each driver? And how do you examine whether or not there is misusage on an over the counter product when that product is more than likely not even covered by FDA standards?

It seems to me that there are going to be a lot more questions than answers, even after the toxicology reports come back on AJ’s ‘B’ sample test. NASCAR’s integrity may come into question, not about the process in which the drug policy was implemented, but about whether or not the punishment is fitting to the crime. Will NASCAR follow the spirit of the rule, or do they take an extremely blurry gray line and try to make it black and white? That’s the answer that everyone seems to be waiting for.


  1. Well said, 100x over! This is great, you have brought up points I haven't seen in any other articles on this. Very well written and informative. You know your stuff. Thank you!! :)

  2. The sad part for AJ is that NASCAR has no integrity left. For them to not drop the sledgehammer is nearly unthinkable. I just hope for AJ that his toxicologist being present gives us a true and clear result. AJ has dealt with this in a good way and I hope NASCAR is as professional. I do hope the substance is revealed as well as the possible methods of ingestion. In other words, everything on the table, out in the open. Good luck AJ.

  3. Nonsense. There's no 'precedent' to be established here. NASCAR has suspended 10 drivers for drug use, and they were all guilty of using illicit drugs. Like it or're going to find that Allmendinger has also thrown his career away.

  4. I would think that after the events with Mayfield that they would be sure that it was a positive test before suspending AJ. And, what will surprise me more is if the second test comes back negative. Because that would mean that someone made a big mistake in the first test. Again, I'm looking for this second test to be positive too. I know people want to believe these folks when they make out like they can't believe they are positive but most folks who mess with drugs usually are in denial until it is proven otherwise. Personally, if I had a multi million dollar job on the line I believe I would be very, very careful about things I put in my body whether supplements or something illegal. Think about it folks, you are making millions of dollars a year, would you jeopardize that by taking something that might cause you to get a positive test? And, I have read that Nascar has quite an extensive list of banned substances including if I'm not mistaken supplements. The responsibility is on AJ to insure that he is not taking anything that would give him a positive test. And, with all the millions he makes a year he could have had an independent lab to test a sample to see if anything showed up. I'm not condemning anyone but I will be highly surprised if that second sample comes back negative.

  5. Very good article that points out information others have failed to mention. I have also wondered if the height/weight of a person would be taken in to considersation. Makes sense that it should. My feeling is that the B test will come back positive but the facts of what exactly caused the positive test will reveal the true reason for the positive test. I truly hope that illegal drugs are not involved and that it is something that can easily be rectified so AJ will be back in the car by Indy! I'm happy to see that Mr Penske and Penske Racing are standing behind least until all the facts are revealed. Here's to having this resolved soon. Best wishes AJ!

  6. First as someone who has a myriad of experience regarding drug testing please be advised that they are not perfect in any way. In fact tests show a failure rate of up to 18-35%. Yet one would never know it after the hard sell of the companies in the 'business' where we are told of being correct 99% plus. Hooey. The saddest thing is once you've tested positive you are branded; the perception is you're a druggie. Now don't discount the fact of the number of times that dirty people pass the tests as well.

    I hope it all works out for AJ. I wouldn't let Nascar's group do the retest. It should be a different group.

  7. Keeping positive thoughts for AJ. As long as he did not test positive for an illegal drug I think people will stand behind him and be supportive. There is so much speculation and judgement going on right now. I for one hope that this all gets resolved soon and he willo be back in the race car soon. #supportAJ