Monday, July 6, 2009
NASCAR seeks flip of Mayfield ruling
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR asked a federal judge Monday to reverse the ruling that lifted driver Jeremy Mayfield's indefinite suspension for failing a random drug test.
The motion filed in U.S. District Court asked Judge Graham Mullen to reverse the injunction he issued last Wednesday that cleared Mayfield to return to competition. NASCAR also filed notice of its intent to appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.
Mayfield was suspended May 9 for a positive drug test, and NASCAR has identified the substance as methamphetamine.
Despite his reinstatement, Mayfield did not attempt to qualify for Saturday night's event at Daytona International Speedway, and he is not on the preliminary entry list for this weekend's race at Chicago.
NASCAR in its filing disputed Mullen's conclusion that the chance of a false positive on Mayfield's drug test was "quite substantial," and contended that Mullen relied on facts "outside the record, including the purported existence of reliable hair sample tests and same-day tests for methamphetamine."
NASCAR said Mullen failed to properly consider the reliability of assessments by Mayfield employees that the driver did not ingest methamphetamine; the sophistication and sensitivity of NASCAR-commissioned Aegis Laboratories drug-testing procedures that prevent false positives; and an affidavit from a Mayfield expert that found the level of methamphetamine in Mayfield's sample would make him a chronic user.
Mayfield attorney Bill Diehl argued to Mullen that Mayfield shows none of the physical characteristics of a chronic meth user, and if he tested positive at the levels NASCAR claimed, Mayfield would be "either a walking zombie or he's dead."
NASCAR also questioned in its filing Mullen's belief that Mayfield can be tested daily, including hair samples, to see if he is a safety risk.
"The Court improperly decided without the benefit of any evidence in the record that a reliable and accurate same-day test for methamphetamine exists which can ensure Mayfield's drug-free participation in upcoming NASCAR events," court documents state, adding there is no evidence a hair test for methamphetamine exists.
"Mayfield continues to pose a threat to public safety, thereby warranting NASCAR's immediate appeal of this Court's decision."
Mayfield, who could not find a full-time ride following his 2006 firing from Evernham Motorsports, started his own team this season and qualified for five of the first 11 races. He was randomly drug-tested May 1 at Richmond International Speedway, and suspended eight days later. He's missed eight straight races since his suspension, and his team has not traveled to the last six events.
He's repeatedly blamed the positive test on the combined use of Adderall for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Claritin-D for allergies, but that theory has been rejected by NASCAR's drug testing administrator.
In seeking an emergency injunction, Mayfield's attorney attacked NASCAR's testing program as flawed because it doesn't follow federal guidelines. Among their issues was Mayfield's inability to challenge the positive result with an analysis from an independent lab.
In reinstating Mayfield, Mullen found the harm to the driver outweighed the harm to NASCAR. But NASCAR on Monday questioned why Mayfield needed the emergency injunction if he was not prepared to compete at Daytona last weekend.
"It is clear that Mayfield misled the Court about the need for a preliminary injunction to protect his livelihood given that -- contrary to his representations to the Court -- he failed to seek eligibility for the Fourth of July NASCAR race," NASCAR said in its filing.
Mayfield said lack of preparation time between the ruling and the entry deadline prevented him from taking his Mayfield Motorsports-owned car to Daytona. He also cited the media attention and the distraction it created as his reason for not attending the race.
He said in a statement issued two hours before the event that Mayfield Motorsports "will do everything in our power to race next weekend," at Chicago.
But the No. 41 was not on the entry list released Monday. He still can meet the late entry deadline of Thursday afternoon, but the registration fee increases from $3,630 to $5,005 -- money Mayfield might not have.
The suspension has left Mayfield's fledgling program financially strapped. In court documents, he said he has laid off 10 employees, borrowed money from family and sold personal assets to cover his living expenses. Triad Racing Technologies also filed a lawsuit after his suspension, accusing Mayfield of owing more than $86,000.