Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting For The Bomb To Drop (Updated)

The media watch is on as AJ Allmendinger's "B" sample is analyzed by the Aegis Lab. The items of interest that have been reported include the fact that Allmendinger had an opportunity to meet with the NASCAR Medical Review Officer (MRO) to explain the "A" sample results prior to NASCAR officials being notified.

That would suggest that Allmendinger was either unable to offer a suitable explanation, was unclear as to the nature of the violation or believed that an error had been made. Now that a second test has been requested, the motorsports and mainstream media is waiting for the potential bomb to drop.

Tuesday evening on SPEED's RaceHub show host Steve Byrnes and analyst Bob Dillner surfaced the topic of Allmendinger having a tough time handling some issues within his domestic life. Dillner used the word divorce while Byrnes made it clear a driver's personal issues should be off-limits.

Dillner had exchanged phone texts with Allmendinger and stated that the driver had expressed frustration about not being able to address the situation publicly, but that he would wait until the second analysis was completed before making a comment. It was suggested that perhaps Team Penske played a major role in that decision.

Shortly after the Race Hub program concluded, Allmendinger's mother Karen offered this on Twitter. It may be the most up to date comment on the situation. "One thing I can state, without a doubt in my mind, is that AJ would never, ever take an illegal drug," she tweeted.

Over on ESPN's NASCAR Now program, analyst Ray Evernham refused to pass judgement until the results of the second test were in. He simply said there would come at time when Allmendinger would have to answer to NASCAR, Penske and ultimately himself on this issue.

The growing frustration in the media and fan base is a familiar one. Simply not knowing the violation in these days of real time social media like Twitter and Facebook leads to speculation and gossip. From Allmendinger's endorsement of Fuel in a Bottle power shots to rumors about spotters knowing there was an ongoing issue are already being batted around on fan forums.

Certainly NASCAR's hope is that this issue can be resolved before the weekend of racing begins in New Hampshire. Heading into the weekend without answers to very fundamental questions will twist the media focus from racing to NASCAR's substance abuse policies. The bottom line is that fans want answers.

On Wednesday, NASCAR Chairman Brian France will appear on the NASCAR Now program at 2:30PM on ESPN2. Host Nicole Briscoe is not shy about asking the tough questions and it will be interesting to see just what the France agenda is on this visit. He may be promoting another topic, but the elephant in the room will surely be discussed at some point.

Update #1: Been informed by NASCAR that the France interview was recorded on Friday in Daytona. It will be Ryan McGee and Brad Daugherty as the reporter and analyst on the show Wednesday.

Update #2: Been informed that the France interview was done by reporter Marty Smith and will be rescheduled for next week due to the amount of breaking news in the sport.

Allmendinger has been a feature reporter for NASCAR Now this season. He prepares a weekly piece produced at the track that focuses on behind the scenes topics that are a bit off-beat. In the past, he has also appeared on SPEED's Race Hub and is a very TV-friendly presence.

Currently the information blackout being enforced by NASCAR, Penske and Allmendinger has proven to be effective in keeping speculation to a minimum. Once the results of the second test are in, there is still no guarantee that information on the specific violation will be disclosed. Ultimately, it is up to Allmendinger.

The entire spectrum of possibilities exist at present from complete reinstatement to an indefinite suspension. To see the career of any elite athlete dangle by a lab result is distressing, but the reality of motorsports is very different from the stick and ball world. Steroids, Human Growth Hormone and blood doping don't make drivers go faster.

The real concern is that a driver may be altered while in the car. That sobriety is the baseline for fair play and that accidents just happen while racing is the very foundation of the sport. Just the perception that this principle may have been violated keeps the gossip wheel spinning.

After Wednesday's NASCAR Now, SPEED returns with a 6PM edition of Race Hub. All eyes will be on these two programs as the ongoing saga continues to unfold. We will update news on this post as it happens.

Please feel free to continue our discussion on the media coverage of this situation. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.


Ancient Racer said...

I can think of no one better to interview BZF at this time and in this present context than Nicole Briscoe. She is both professional and deeply involved in racing though she is neither a former crew member or diver she is married to a racer. This seems a fine distance to view the issue of testing.

I hope NASCAR does not put any questions about defintions (particularly what exactly is, in NASCAR's view, the definition of "No-Tolerance" and does it allow for "discretion") procedure and transparency off limits to her and I hope her questions to BZF will stick to defintion, procedure and transparency as I doubt he will get into specifics. I would not and I believe those aronud hizzoner are smart enough to tell him not to.

Vicky D said...

Nascar always uses the privacy card but if I were the person I would want everything hush hush. However if I were in the right then I would be upset about not being able to defend myself - there's probably all sorts of stuff going on about AJ besides the drug test. Oh my, waiting on the ba - I mean bomb to fall!

RichmondFan said...

There should be no suspense around the B-sample. It was collected from the same urine stream as the A-sample. The driver pees into a cup, then pours the urine into two vials. You can see a video on YouTube of Jimmie Johnson being drug tested and being given these same instructions, the only way the B-sample would produce a different result is if someone in the lab was grossly negligent. There are so many checks and balances in the testing lab, that it would be nearly impossible for that to happen.

AJ is done. If he had any sort of explanation that cold hold up, Aegis Labs would have accepted it and never even informed NASCAR of the positive (that's their policy). Whatever it was, it was something that NASCAR felt couldn't let this guy get into a car on Saturday.

MRM4 said...

If I'm not mistaken, HIPPA laws prevent public disclosure of such matters unless the party involved does this on their own. If this is the case, NASCAR is just following the law.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Tick ...tick ...tick ...what a wait to go ...will NASCAR be as inept in handling this incident as with earlier events ...brings to mind the rumors and inuendoes surrounding the Tim Richmond situation ...suspect BZF will fend-off, deflect or ignore most questions relating to the Allmendinger tests ...give BZF some credit if he brings along someone capable of dealing with the media in a professional, forthright manner ...oops, professional, that's an adjective lacking in most broadcast events this and recent years ...tick, tick, tick

Colorado said...

BZF said that they would never reveal the drug taken. This from Jayski this morning. Brian is so far removed from reality, it's sickening. In this day and age, specualtion will hurt a career more than the actual name of the drug. As far as Mayfield, any amount of Sudafed will be labeled Methamphetamines. The interview with BZF will be nothing more than a train wreck, as he is clueless, and can't even form grammatically correct sentences. See any past interview. But if it were me, and Not Nicole, I would ask how many drinks he had the night he wrecked his car into a palm tree in Daytona.

glenc1 said...

It's interesting to me that NASCAR is the only one that does actually respect the privacy (although I suspect it is for their own protection, not that they really care that much about the drivers.) All this rumor stuff really aggravates me though (as in Red's post on the other blog article). It just seems like so many people would rather judge without knowing the facts than just be patient enough to wait for them. We are so used to instant gratification--remember when papers went to press at 11pm and if it missed the cut off you had to wait till the next day to read about it? Now people complain because they can't get all the facts of a breaking news story in 2 minutes, when not all the facts have even been figured out yet.

The graphic is...just a bit overkill, dontchathink? :)

Anonymous said...

Probably just Claritin and "a bad bit of meat".

glenc1 -
Now you understand why newpapers are going out of business.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just repeating what NASCAR told me this AM: The Brian France interview teased by NASCAR Now was recorded on Friday in Daytona before the Allmendinger situation.

Today on NASCAR Now, it will be writer Ryan McGee and analyst Brad Daugherty.


RichmondFan said...

>As far as Mayfield, any amount of
>Sudafed will be labeled Methamphetamines.

This may be true on the basic EMIT screener test, but this is not true in a GC/MS test, where the L-methamphetamine found is sudafed can be distinguished from the D-methamphetamine found in crystal meth. The lab was able to distinguish exactly which one was in the sample, so it's not like he took a nasal decongestant and ruined his career.

RichmondFan said...

There has been a lot of talk here about how NASCAR botched the Mayfield case and didn't handle it well. I totally disagree.

In the Mayfield case, the lab gave them the results, NASCAR suspended the driver, and then the driver start planting conspiracy theories, which France-hating fans ate up like candy. NASCAR didn't botch it - Mayfield is the one who made that case a total mess with his erratic interviews and behavior. And soon he will go to jail, as he is facing three separate criminal trials for meth possession (which was found INSIDE A SAFE ON HIS PROPERTY, so NASCAR didn't "plant it") as well as felony burglary charges.

dara2K said...

So does anyone think NASCAR or the lab would ever admit a mistake on the "A" sample? How would a mistake be determined since NASCAR uses the same sample and the same lab on the "B" sample. What was with all the "drama" in announcing it right before the race? Could Nascar not want AJ to be able to capture a moment during broadcast to defend himself? Finally, where would AJ Allmendinger go to get his career and reputation back. NASCAR needs to fix this process. That's what Jeremy Mayfield has been fighting for years!

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

I think it is appropriate to allow the person in question to decide what information is released. Especially until all the testing is completed since AJ requested "B" sample be tested.

Also, I can wait a few days for more information.

Whatever the outcome; error in testing, positive for a banned substance, all hell with break loose. NASCAR/AEGIS are idiots, process flawed/unfair, etc, NASCAR targeted AJ, AJ framed, AJ an idiot, etc and a million in between.

So sad...first & foremost for AJ, regardless of the outcome.

Anonymous said...

How is it you can get results from the B sample in 48-72 hours but it took an entire WEEK to get results from the A sample? Did the doc forget to check his email for results til Saturday? Has anyone asked NASCAR about that? And what if AJ is telling the truth and didn't knowingly take something? If there's trouble at home, could an angry woman mix something into a drink? Maybe someone who wants the 22 ride did something. Maybe the old driver is mad and crazy enough to take revenge. Seriously, with the stakes being so high, I would think every driver is incredibly paranoid about his food/drink being messed with.

Anonymous said...

RichmondFan...that isn't exactly the process; Aegis doesn't contact the driver directly, the medical review officer does. That's a Dr. Douglas Aukerman (if I understand right, he works for NASCAR). He "can choose to inform only the driver or crew member who failed the test. Drivers with positive "A" samples in the past have resolved them by providing evidence such as medical prescriptions, and positive tests can be cleared without NASCAR or a team learning about it." I guess we can presume AJ was not able to do that with the doctor. But that does not mean whatever it was posed a danger. It simply means it was a banned substance. They could be banned for any number of reasons, long term health, not just safety--I don't think HGH, for example, has serious short term side effects. I have read that some believe they would not have taken such a drastic step if that was the case--but that was opinion. Once they know more, then I'm sure the media will then 'release the hounds'. The NASCAR media, anyway--I'm not sure the stick & ball guys will care that much.

I would imagine AJ could have revealed the substance himself had he chosen to. I imagine his agent/lawyers/team whoever advised him not to, not NASCAR. And I don't think HIPPA laws apply if a person has agreed to it--it's in the union contracts of say, NFL players, and I think that info is released.

The Mad Man said...

Knowing a few things about false positives and that Aegis Labs has been successfully sued over a false positive and that their methods aren't recognized by the FDA or within the medical community as legitimate or as questionable at best because they use a mathematical formula instead of lab tetsing results, I hope and pray that Dinger's results do come back negative on the B Sample.

Another issue regarding this is that until Mayfield's statute of limitations on his appeal ran out, no driver who was mid-level to extremely popular was found to be positive on any drug test.

Another thing that Aegis Labs and NASCARhaven't bothered telling anyone is that Aegis Labs does sub-contract some of their testing to other labs which may not necessarily be certified or using the appropriate standards. So any tests done by the sub-contractor would immediately be questionable.

Hopefully Dinger had an independent test done by a certified lab other than Aegis as a back-up. It's possible something in his health food diet could've given a false positive.

GinaV24 said...

Personally I think the B sample should be tested by a separate lab with a separate chain of custody.

This way if there were any errors, it is being tested independently.

We send lab samples for testing all the time and the state can require another set of samples taken and be sent to another lab. If it works for environmental samples, it should work for people.

Dennis said...

Whatever the result, AJ will need to come forward and say what the substance was. Otherwise, his image will be forever tarnished by speculation.

Better to declare it and your remorse. Then, work to get it behind you.

Jonathan said...

Hey JD, Hello everyone! I agree with Nascar's stance to not disclose what the substance is... and to me who cares about everyone wanting to know everything at every moment cause they think they have to at this day in age... gosh slow down everyone take it easy thats whats wrong with this world now a days no one is ever satisified!! Anwyays I got this off of Facebook from AJ Allmendingers link he posted on FB..
Updated AJ Allmendinger Information
July 11, 2012
Charlotte, NC (July 11, 2012)

“In an effort to help our colleagues in the media report on this in a timely and accurate manner, we wanted to provide some additional details regarding AJ’s sample “A” test results. AJ tested positive for a stimulant. He has no idea why the first test was positive, and he has never knowingly taken any prohibited substance. AJ is collecting his medicines and supplements for testing to determine whether an over the counter product caused his positive test. AJ and all of us at Walldinger Racing respect NASCAR's testing program, and he has requested that his "B" sample be tested as part of the process of getting to the bottom of this. We will have the opportunity to review all of the scientific data surrounding the test following the "B" sample test, but our understanding is that AJ's test was slightly above the threshold. As of this morning, we have not been given notice of when the testing of the “B” sample will take place. Thanks again for all of the support of our fans, team, and sponsors as we continue working through the process.”

So there you have it its some kind of stimulant

Anonymous said...

It is not "some kind of stimulant." It is an exact stimulant, and Aegis Labs has the technology to identify it. They didn't just say he tested positive for a generic class of drugs. AJ is not telling the whole story.

Bob-a-Lou said...

Thankfully Allmendinger has the right (per NASCAR's policy) to witness the testing of the B sample and, according to a recent Jayski update, "the test was conducted late yesterday at Aegis' Atlanta headquarters, with Allmendinger, his attorney and a toxicologist of his choosing in attendance to monitor the proceedings."

I genuinely hope that this all turns out OK and that it was just a case of too many energy shots or something similar. I do have to say that I think A.J. has handled it well so far - perhaps with some guidance from the Penske PR machine. I, too, hate the waiting.

KY1WING said...

GinaV24 is correct on B should be going to different lab.

Currently, if B is tested by the same lab and has any significant difference doesn't that severely damage the integrity and reputation of Aegis and its client NASCAR and destroy NASCARs drug program?

Show of hands of how many folks think that is going to happen?

Any rules out there preventing drivers from having the sample split three ways with the driver sending his to a separate lab (with separate chain of custody)? If I ever got to have the greatest job in the world driver one of these cars I'd sure want that for a bit of Insurance or keep everyone honest.

Hope it all works out for AJ.