A.J. Allmendinger: Why Judgement on Suspended NASCAR Driver Should Be Withheld
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We know that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger failed a random drug test and was suspended just prior to the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7.
We know that he tested positive for a "stimulant," according to Allmendinger's representative Tara Ragan.
We know Allmendinger's "B" sample, which was tested yesterday, also came back positive and that the Penske Racing driver has now been suspended indefinitely.
And today, we know that A.J. Allmendinger will be participating in NASCAR's "Road to Recovery" program in an attempt to get his racing career back on track as soon as possible, according to Ragan.
Anybody who's anybody in the NASCAR media realm has had something or another to say about the Allmendinger situation. Some have suggested team owner Roger Penske should cut ties with him, while others have hinted that his career may be over altogether.
Up to this point, I have personally refrained from writing about this sad predicament for this simple reason: I don't have all the facts.
I still don't. In fact, nobody does. But the fact that all of this Allmendinger bashing has gone on in spite of the lack of knowledge at hand has me a little perturbed.
Which is why I feel like now is a great time for me to put my two-cents in on this touchy topic.
Do you believe the critizism towards A.J. Allmendinger is fair?
We've already discussed the things we know, but let's talk about the things we don't know: the little things that have been left out.
Most importantly, what exactly was the substance Allmendinger tested positive for? It was called a "stimulant," but due to privacy concerns, neither NASCAR nor anybody from the Allmendinger camp has revealed the substance, nor do they plan to.
A stimulant can be a very broad range of things, from an ingredient in "Fuel in a Bottle" energy drink, which sponsors Allmendinger, to methamphetamine, which Jeremy Mayfield tested positive for back in 2009.
In addition, is too much being made out of this positive "B" sample?
While it's true that the positive second test confirms that the results of the first test were accurate, we have to understand that the two tests were taken at the same time and in the same manner.
Of course the result was going to be the same.
I'm not going to say that Allmendinger didn't take a banned substance, knowingly or unknowingly. He failed the test and NASCAR did what they had to do to uphold its zero-tolerance drug policy.
The stigma Allmendinger has earned from the failed tests is what is more frustrating than anything, especially after the failed "B" sample.
That so many people have said so much about the situation without having all the facts has left the door wide open for Allmendinger to be labeled a dope fiend.
Worse yet, the common misconception here is that the positive "B" test seems to confirm it.
That just isn't true.
Allmendinger is a good person and a talented driver. Did he make a mistake? Probably. Should he pay the price for it? Absolutely.
But is it fair to label Allmendinger or call him the next Jeremy Mayfield without having all the facts and information present before us?
It was formally announced hours after the publication of this article that the substance Allmendinger tested positive for was amphetamines, according to ESPN.com.
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