NASCAR saw PED use blow up last year. The racing organization revealed driver Aaron Fike fired up with heroin before he took to the track. Later, champion Ron Hornaday said he used testosterone (possibly HGH) to treat a thyroid condition. NASCAR drivers expressed concern, and now NASCAR will initiate dope testing in 2009. (AP)
NASCAR likely will test drivers the third week of January, and crew members must submit results from an approved lab by Jan. 16, according to documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
A NASCAR memo sent to teams lists specific banned substances for which crew members must be screened. No similar guidelines were issued for drivers, as NASCAR reserves the right to test competitors for anything.
Under the old policy, NASCAR had the right to randomly test based on suspicion of abuse. Under the tougher guidelines first announced in September, everyone will be tested before the season begins, and random testing will continue throughout the year. NASCAR expects to randomly test 12 to 14 individuals per series each weekend in 2009.
The guidelines were strengthened in part because of former Truck Series driver Aaron Fike's admission that he had used heroin — even on days he raced. That led Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and other veteran drivers to call on NASCAR to add random drug testing to its policy.
The memo, dated Dec. 8, is the first time the new policy has been laid out in writing and specifies who falls under the guidelines. Those who must be tested before Jan. 16 include: pit crew members, including "over-the-wall" crew members, the crew chief, car chief, team members responsible for tires, fuel and pit crew operation, spotters and race-day support personnel that includes engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists.
Sounds like a comprehensive testing regime. Here are the drugs included:
_ Seven different amphetamines, including methamphetamine and PMA, a synthetic psychostimulant and hallucinogen.
_ Three drugs classified under ephedrine.
_ 13 different narcotics, including codeine and morphine.
_ Ten different benzodiazepines and barbiturates.
_ Marijuana, cocaine, zolpidem, nitrites, chromates and drugs that can increase specific gravity.
No such list exists for the drivers, but spokesman Ramsey Poston confirmed NASCAR will test for performance-enhancing drugs.
The driver testing, which will be administered by NASCAR, had been scheduled for preseason testing at Daytona next month. But because testing has been suspended for 2009, NASCAR likely will screen drivers when most are in Charlotte next month for the annual media tour of race shops.
Interesting that there are no published guidelines for the real stars of the circuit -- the drivers.