NASCAR's Banned Substance List: Uncovering the Myth

David YeazellSenior Analyst IJuly 19, 2009

This article is not about another writer’s opinion on Jeremy Mayfield’s guilt or innocence.

Given all the evidence presented by both parties, and the media, it’s hard to decide who is telling the truth and who is being crucified.

This is, however, an article about the now infamous list of banned substances that NASCAR has, or doesn’t have.

Although NASCAR is a private company, because of mainstream media, their private business is very public.

This scenario is no different.

I don’t really remember the first time I heard the name Santa Claus. I am sure it was sometime during my toddler years.

Of course, now, as I look back, there were other names I became familiar with. The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and, of course, who could forget the Boogie Man.

Although I have never physically seen any of these entities, I did, for the longest time, think Keith Richards was the Boogie Man; my mind was conditioned to believe they did in fact exist.

NASCAR’s banned substance list could easily fall into the same category as the myths listed above.

I do, however, believe that a list does in fact exist.

Since the Mayfield story broke, I have listened to Brian France speak at two press conferences.

In the first press conference, held at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, he discussed at great length the issues surrounding Mayfield’s suspension, and, stopping just short of revealing what drug was found, discussed the list of banned substances that NASCAR possessed.

This list, as France said, is also open to the media for discussion. But banned substances are not exclusive to NASCAR’s list.

"There are things in the scientific world that are changing all the time. Our laboratory would have a list and would have an expanding list, and it wouldn't be subject to just that list."

While this comment in its raw form is confusing to some, it makes perfect sense to me.

NASCAR’s new drug policy is always compared to the IOC, NFL and MLB.

Here is where the problem lies. I believe NASCAR learned from the mistakes of these other sanctioning bodies, and is capitalizing on those mistakes.

Mark McGwire admitted using the anabolic steroid androstenedione during his MLB career.

At the time androstenedione was banned by the NFL, IOC and the World Anti Doping Agency, and is now banned by Congress as an illegal anabolic steroid. But, since it was not listed as banned by MLB, McGwire technically had not broken any rules.

MLB, NFL, and NHL players are protected by a union. In McGwire’s case, if he had been suspended or fined, he would have been defended by the player’s union, and their defense would have been that he broke no rules.

NASCAR drivers do not have a union. They do, however, as Mayfield has proved, have lawyers.

If NASCAR makes a list public that contains banned substances “x”, “y” and “z”, and a driver is suspended for testing positive for a substance other than x, y, or z, NASCAR would not have a leg to stand on in a legal theatre.

The second press conference I attended was held at Daytona.

France again addressed the media about the current situation with Mayfield. He also addressed the banned substance list, and how the media was compiling their own list, which included, of all things, chocolate milk.

A published list would be media fodder beyond imaginable proportions, and every incident would either be accepted or exonerated through the media.

Unlike the myths of my childhood, I believe this list does exist, and that NASCAR has learned from the mistakes of others.

Drugs and drivers do not mix, and no matter what we think of the approach NASCAR is taking here, I believe overall, it’s the right approach.


Sources: Wikipedia, previous articles by this author, and the clutter in my head.