Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mayfield Media Mayhem A Vivid Memory (Updated)

Tuesday noon ET statement from Allmendinger: "I have informed NASCAR that I have requested that the 'B' sample be tested, following the steps according to NASCAR's 2012 rule book regarding this situation. I fully respect NASCAR's drug usage policy and the reasons they have it.

I am hoping this can get resolved as quickly as possible so that I can get back to driving the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge. I am sorry that this has caused such a distraction for my Penske Racing team, our sponsors and fans.

Obviously I would never do anything to jeopardize my opportunity here at Penske Racing or to my fellow drivers. I am very conscious about my training and health and would never knowingly take a prohibited drug."

Tuesday AM Update: "We're standing behind (AJ) until we understand the results," said Roger Penske to the SiriusXM Radio's Morning Drive show. Still no timetable on results of "B" sample.

Anthony James Allmendinger is a health conscious professional athlete. He is a feature reporter for ESPN's NASCAR Now TV program. He is a media darling because of his polite manners and infectious smile. Now, he is a poster boy for NASCAR's infamous and secretive substance abuse policy.

On Monday Allmendinger made the move and formally requested that the "B" sample of his Kentucky Speedway urine test be analyzed. This is a big step. Instead of quietly meeting with NASCAR to address the violation, Allmendinger's actions make the statement that he believes the original analysis was wrong.

This move opens the door once again to a reaction from the mainstream media that will put NASCAR's procedures under a microscope. The painful memories of the Jeremy Mayfield fiasco included confusing policies, too many spokesmen and NASCAR shooting itself in the foot time and time again.

These days NASCAR has the new Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) department that handles this type of situation. While not in place for the start of the Mayfield mess, the IMC has quietly handled the announcement and subsequent actions that came from drug policy suspensions of other NASCAR license holders without incident.

SPEED's Danielle Trotta reported on the Race Hub show that Allmendinger left town early Monday in a private plane from the Concord Airport. The most recent statement from Penske Racing again contains nothing but a confirmation that no information will be released anytime soon. NASCAR is silent.

All of this is in stark contrast to the Mayfield situation which quickly turned into a media sideshow. It made that transition because information from all the parties involved was made public in chunks. Just like dominoes, a statement from one party seemed to then require the next party to immediately respond. While it made for great entertainment, it really served no useful purpose for the sport.

At this time, only the motorsports media is chasing this story. Should Allmendinger choose to remain silent until his "B" sample results are in, the next few days should be calm. It will then be up to Allmendinger to set the tone. If those subsequent results cause him to be released from Penske, the situation may become quite different in a hurry. Especially if he feels victimized, the media may become his outlet for that message.

NASCAR's substance abuse policy has been in place since 2009. Click here to review Jayski's page on violations and updates of that policy. The ultimate question raised every time is whether or not the actual violation should be made public. Click here for an opinion on that topic from AP motorsports reporter Jenna Fryer. She believes that information should be announced along with the violation.

Dietary supplements, sleep aids and no alcohol 12 hours before a race are just three of the more interesting items that would cause the same policy violation announcement as sinister drugs like heroin and methamphetamine. The argument for making public the actual violation at the time of the original suspension certainly holds some weight.

Just as we did with Mayfield, we will be keeping an eye on the TV and media coverage of the Allmendinger situation. Monday, both ESPN's NASCAR Now and SPEED's Race Hub passed along timely news using Charlotte area reporters assigned to the story.

The fastest information source to date has been social media text service Twitter. Before stories are written or TV segments recorded, Allmendinger information has been made public as the rush to be first online continues. Both Allmendinger and his wife Lynne have not used their Twitter accounts since the violation was made public.

We will see what Tuesday brings and update those news items right on this post. In the meantime, feel free to offer your opinion about the media coverage of this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.