Friday, May 29, 2009
Court to continue case next week
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A judge on Friday denied Jeremy Mayfield's request for a temporary restraining order that would have lifted the NASCAR driver's suspension and enabled him to get back in his No. 41 Sprint Cup car.
Judge Forrest Bridges scheduled a hearing in Mecklenburg County Court for Wednesday to determine whether Mayfield, who was suspended May 9 for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy, can compete at Pocono next weekend and until his case is settled.
Bridges issued a gag order preventing attorneys for Mayfield and NASCAR from discussing what drug Mayfield tested positive for, which according to arguments by both sides in open court was amphetamines.
"It's like the rain delay on Sunday in Charlotte [the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway], except this one goes to next week," said Bill Diehl, an attorney for Mayfield.
Asked what was gained by Friday's hearing, Diehl said, "We know what their case is and they know what our case is about."
Mayfield and Diehl filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging the driver's suspension for what NASCAR said was a failed random drug test.
In presenting Mayfield's side, John Buric, an attorney in Diehl's firm, said Mayfield had taken Claritin-D, an allergy drug, in addition to Adderall, a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit disorder. Buric said, according to NASCAR, Mayfield had tested positive for amphetamines; Adderall is a name-brand amphetamine.
It was not immediately clear whether Adderall or its ingredients are on NASCAR's banned substance list. NASCAR has not identified what Mayfield tested positive for or made its list of banned substances public.
Mayfield has contended from the beginning that he did nothing wrong and the positive test was the result of combining a prescription drug with Claritin-D. Dr. David Black, who runs NASCAR's testing program, has since ruled that out as a possibility.
Mayfield's request for an injunction listed seven charges, from breach of character to unjustly preventing Mayfield from participating in any NASCAR function and thus earn a living. Diehl also asked that NASCAR officials stop talking publicly about Mayfield's drug test, which Bridges granted.
Before the ruling, NASCAR attorney Paul Hendrick had sought more time to respond to Mayfield's complaint, saying there was no way for the driver to race this weekend at Dover. Judge Bridges agreed, and will let another judge rule on whether Mayfield is allowed to race at Pocono.
Hendrick said Mayfield should not be allowed back on the track.
"We cannot allow people to drive when we think that he has issues of drug abuse or a positive test," he said, later adding that if Mayfield were allowed back in the car, such a ruling would take away any authority NASCAR has with its drug policy.
"This isn't about one driver, Jeremy Mayfield. This is about all of our drivers and NASCAR's ability to administer its sport," Hendrick said.
Buric said Mayfield's test results should be thrown out and he be allowed to drive again. He argued the specimen collection process was not properly conducted, saying under federal employee drug testing guidelines the second test -- known as a "B" sample -- should have been conducted by a different laboratory than the first.
He added that since the second sample also was tested by Aegis Labs, the company employed by NASCAR to conduct test, that the process was flawed. He said there is no way to get a legitimate second test with what remains of the "B" sample because the seal has been broken on the container.
"There is nothing he can do to fix this but throw out the results and let him go out and race," Buric said.
Hendrick said three drugs were found in Mayfield's system on the first test and two of them -- Claritin D and Adderall -- were explained by Mayfield. He said the amphetamines still showed up after pseudo ephedrine, a substance found in Claritin D that is banned by many sports, was eliminated from the process.
Hendrick argued that NASCAR is not held to federal employee guidelines because it is a private entity. He said the drug Mayfield tested for was a "dangerous, illegal, banned substance" and that to allow Mayfield to drive would be dangerous to the driver, other competitors and fans.
"If you don't have control over this hazardous activity [of racing], people die," Hendrick said. "... I know of no federal employee who drives around at speeds of 200 miles per hour."
NASCAR president Mike Helton was in court along with spokesman Kerry Tharp, as was Mayfield and his wife Shana, who has the title of owner of Mayfield's racing team while he is under suspension.
Prior to Friday the drug Mayfield tested positive for was unknown. NASCAR chairman Brian France said the suspension was for a "serious infraction," defining "serious" as the use of a recreational or performance-enhancing drug. Sources have said Mayfield did not test for a PED.
France said last weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway that the sport's governing body has no plans to settle the issue out of court and stands by its policy.
Tharp reiterated after the hearing that NASCAR believes in its policy and that no mistakes were made.
Meanwhile, in Dover, Del., the Sprint Cup team owned by Shana Mayfield withdrew its entry for this weekend's race. Mayfield Motorsports did not bring the No. 41 to Dover International Speedway and attempt to qualify for Sunday's race with J.J. Yeley, who failed to qualify the car for the Coca-Cola 600.
Shana said a lack of money was a factor.
Diehl said Wednesday's hearing will be more of the same in an attempt to get Mayfield back on the track.
"He wants to race," Diehl said. "We hope to go to Pocono."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.