Thursday, May 21, 2009
Daugherty Talks NBA vs. NASCAR On Drug Issues
The topic that just will not go away got a little more intense on Wednesday. As NASCAR Now host Mike Massaro put it, Jeremy Mayfield has "lawyered up."
Instead of more ill-timed comments to the media, the Mayfields have hired an attorney and stopped talking. Bill Diehl, the same attorney who helped Elliott Sadler through his recent employment issues, is now working for the Mayfields.
Click here for the link to ESPN Lead Reporter Marty Smith's story on how Diehl has already contacted NASCAR and been sent the complete toxicology report on Mayfield. That action alone should end lots of speculation about who knew what and when.
Smith appeared from Kasey Kahne Racing, where Kahne was holding an open house for the fans this week to show-off his large sprint car shop. Smith has been at the forefront of this story and once again simply kept TV viewers up to date on how this issue was progressing.
The one person with perhaps a very unique perspective on this is Brad Daugherty. As a former professional basketball player, Daugherty had been involved in drug testing programs administered by the NBA for years. It was an excellent choice to have Daugherty follow Smith on the show.
The first point Daugherty reinforced was that there was no list of illegal substances given to the teams prior to the new policy beginning. Calling it a "slippery slope," he stated that his own small team was trying to be proactive but there was really no road map to follow.
What Daugherty was referring to was the now almost mandatory disclosure of any prescription medications taken by drivers, crew members or officials. There is a fine line between forcing someone to disclose what may be a private and personal medical issue and their legal right to privacy. This is especially true when the medication in question has nothing to do with NASCAR's safety concerns.
"If you are going to participate in this sport, you need to know what the drugs are on that list," said Daugherty. "The drugs that put you in the faulty areas."
Massaro referenced the NBA and asked Daugherty to compare that league's drug policy with NASCAR's new program. "Driving a race car you are putting your life at risk as well as the other participants," said Daugherty. He pointed out that the chief concern of the NBA was simply "cleaning up the game."
Calling the new NASCAR policy stringent and tough to circumvent, Daugherty made a point of saying the entire drug testing program was long overdue.
During the segment of the program from Kahne's shop, Smith referenced the fact that Mayfield was Kahne's former teammate and asked Kahne how he felt about the suspension issue. "It needs to be done with," said Kahne complaining about the now drawn-out bickering between Mayfield and NASCAR.
Kahne related that he got along great with Mayfield and was surprised when he heard the suspension news. Smith asked about a list of banned substances. "Maybe there needs to be a list," said Kahne. "But, I'm fine with what we got." Kahne related his diet as regular food, water and Budweiser.
Toward the end of the show, Massaro brought in reporter Ed Hinton for a little debate with Smith. It did not take long for the topic of Mayfield's suspension to arise. As usual, neither reporter minced their words.
"NASCAR has got to open up about this," said Hinton. "They are looking worse and worse...all the time. I think Mayfield would even welcome it if they said OK here is what the substance is. NASCAR is hemorrhaging credibility here, not Mayfield."
"Transparency is particularly paramount in this particular instance," said Smith while agreeing with Hinton. "Mayfield has thrown the gauntlet down. It is a he-said she-said of historical proportions. It is about credibility and NASCAR suffers every single second this wades on."
ESPN has again used NASCAR Now to confront another touchy issue that is upsetting the sport. Daugherty, Smith and Hinton worked quite well with Massaro to get the latest information out to fans on this topic.
Hopefully, now that the Mayfield situation has settled down, the sport can return to celebrating Memorial Day weekend with some good racing on live TV in front of a big crowd. What a nice change of pace that would be at a time when NASCAR could really use one.
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