Thursday, July 9, 2009
Mayfield: 'It's time to defend myself'
By Marty Smith ESPN.com
Suspended Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield has broken his silence, vehemently denying allegations of drug use and adamantly defending himself from recent NASCAR claims in an exclusive interview with ESPN.
It is Mayfield's first extensive public response since being suspended indefinitely from NASCAR competition on May 9, when NASCAR said he failed a random drug test the previous week in Richmond, Va. NASCAR later confirmed an ESPN The Magazine report that Mayfield had tested positive for methamphetamine.
A federal appeals court issued an injunction last week that lifted Mayfield's indefinite suspension. NASCAR appealed that ruling on Monday. Mayfield has not returned to the track.
Jeremy Mayfield says 'I'm not getting drug through the mud no more.'
"Every time there's an action [by NASCAR], there's going to be a reaction. From here on out," Mayfield said in a phone interview Wednesday from his home in Statesville, N.C. "I try to be nice. I try to be respectful to them. I try to do everything right. But I'm not getting drug through the mud no more."
Mayfield repeated his stance that he never took methamphetamine. He also said he no longer consumes alcohol, largely due to the fact, he said, his father was a "bad alcoholic." Asked if he had ever taken illegal drugs, Mayfield responded, "What are you calling illegal? I've drank beer. I don't drink beer at all anymore. I don't drink. Don't do anything."
He said he feels as though NASCAR is attempting to make an example of him.
"I feel like that's exactly what they thought I was going to be. Exactly. To a 'T,'" Mayfield said. "Now, all the sudden, Brian's [France, NASCAR's chairman] coming back saying, 'Well, we have positive tests all the time.' Well, if it's a zero-tolerance policy, how in the hell do you have people testing positive all the time?
"Then he comes back and says there's a list. I forget what big word he used -- an exhaustive list of drugs. Everybody in the world has asked him why the drivers don't have a list. What did he say? Now there's a list -- an exhaustive list. Right? Where's it at?
"It's bull----, man, and somebody needs to stand up and see through this. There's experts out everywhere saying the same thing I'm [saying]."
To drive home his point, Mayfield cited quotes from a pair of drug experts, Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency and Travis Tygart of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Both have recently questioned NASCAR's policy of not releasing its list of banned substances.
"I sit here listening to Brian [France] on a daily basis, defending their policy and talk about how thorough, accurate and fair it is. Then you turn right around and look at what, say, like, Dr. [Gary] Wadler, for example. Quote: 'Their policy is way, way behind those of other sports.'
"Here's another quote, as stated by Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency: 'NASCAR's program fails to meet some, if not all, factors on a list of effective policies.'
"Then you've got a federal judge who doesn't believe in their policy. But what does Brian say? Well, he defends their policy.
"So you've got two of the most powerful anti-doping association policy leaders -- Dr. Wadler [and] Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti Doping Agency -- telling you that NASCAR's program fails to meet some, if not all, factors on a list of effective policies. And a federal judge feels the same way, and that's not good enough."
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston told ESPN: "NASCAR did this? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?
"Jeremy Mayfield is the one who tested positive for methamphetamines, he's the one who violated the substance abuse policy, and he's the one that put the other competitors and fans at risk," Poston said. "NASCAR has an obligation to protect the sport. The judge's order is quite clear: Mr. Mayfield will have to comply with whatever drug-testing requirements are imposed right away on him, and continue to do so."
Mayfield broke his silence in response to accusations by NASCAR on Wednesday that he had purposely delayed taking a drug test by more than seven hours on Monday.
NASCAR's testing timeline
Jeremy Mayfield's camp, including attorney John Buric, and NASCAR disagree on some of the circumstances of Mayfield's tests on Monday.
According to The Associated Press, NASCAR said Mayfield was notified by an Aegis representative at 1:18 p.m. Monday to report to a nearby testing center within two hours, but the driver said he had to first speak to his attorney. After a delay, Buric told NASCAR that Mayfield couldn't get to the center by 3:18 p.m., so NASCAR said it found a lab closer to his location.
At 3:45 p.m., Mayfield called the lab to say he was close but lost, and a receptionist offered to talk him the rest of the way, according to NASCAR spokesman Ramsay Poston.
NASCAR said Mayfield told the lab he would call right back but no one was contacted until 5:30 p.m., when Buric called NASCAR to inform them Mayfield could not find the location so the lawyer had sent him to an independent laboratory. Buric said he did that so Mayfield would avoid accusations of refusing to be tested.
Buric confirmed Mayfield received a call at 1:18 p.m. But he said Mayfield told him it went to voice mail, and he did not get the message until 2 p.m. By the time Mayfield sorted it out with Buric, he had just 36 minutes to report and told his lawyer he couldn't make the deadline. Buric confirmed a second location was found but said Mayfield was "given bad directions" and could not find it.
"I told him go to our lab, go to our doctors, and he did. He provided a sample to our own doctors," Buric said, according to the AP.
He told NASCAR of the independent test at 5:30 p.m., and NASCAR told him to send Mayfield home, where testers would meet him to collect a sample, the AP reported.
Poston said two testers and a NASCAR security officer arrived at Mayfield's home in Catawba County, N.C., at 7:20 p.m., could not gain access for 10 minutes, and then weren't able to persuade Mayfield to give a sample until 8:20 p.m.
"There is no denying that Jeremy Mayfield stretched this out for seven hours," Poston said. "The litany of excuses and delay tactics he used to keep away from our testers was ridiculous."
The comments infuriated Mayfield, who said he was sent on a "wild-goose chase," and was given just 18 minutes to get to a NASCAR-appointed lab to undergo testing.
"I wasn't running or hiding from anybody, because I don't have to," he said.
Mayfield said that when his attorney, Jon Buric of Charlotte, called with news of the requested test, Mayfield was set to enter a meeting with a potential buyer of his race team, who'd driven to Charlotte from Atlanta. Mayfield said Buric told him to conduct the meeting as planned, but then later called back and said to take the test immediately.
Mayfield said he placed two calls for directions to the NASCAR-appointed lab within a 15-minute span and got an answering machine both times. By that time, he said, he was past NASCAR's deadline.
"It was a wild-goose chase and I got pissed off about it," he said. "I was like, 'I'm not doing this for nobody.' Why would I? I know what they're trying to do, [make it] where I can't meet my 18-minute deadline, which I was already late for anyway."
Mayfield said he then stopped at an independent lab of his choice to conduct a test, so "they couldn't use that against me." He then drove the rest of the way home where Buric said NASCAR would be waiting to collect a urine sample.
"So I drive home, haul ass home after I take my test, get here, nobody's here," Mayfield said. "Waited on them. Waited on them. Waited on them."
Mayfield said he waited "an hour and a half" for NASCAR-appointed representatives to show up and collect the specimen. He said once the representatives did show up, he was forced to provide the specimen while the collectors watched.
He said it was "humiliating."
"I did one [test] for the independent lab before their test, took their test, and did one after their test for another independent lab," Mayfield said. "So I went to two different labs, plus their test on Monday. I want to make that clear. Nobody's running and hiding."
Last weekend in Daytona, Sprint Cup team owner Tommy Baldwin said that, regardless of innocence or guilt, Mayfield was a marked man. Mayfield agreed.
"Forever," he said. "You know what's kind of sickening? Several, including Dr. [David] Black, who's not a doctor, this is what makes you sick, [them saying] 'Jeremy, if you just go about this quietly you'll be OK. You'll be all right.' Well, bull----. I'm marked. How do you go about this thing quietly? Tell me that."
Black, NASCAR's substance abuse policy administrator and the CEO of Aegis Sciences Corp., has a doctorate in forensic toxicology.
Mayfield questioned whether Black was qualified to oversee NASCAR's drug policy.
"Why would you call a toxicologist if you're on medications?" he said. "How is he qualified to tell you what prescriptions you can take and can't take? Dr. Black is not a medical doctor. He's not qualified to tell any driver out there, if they call him, what prescriptions they can take and can't take. Fact."
Reached via cell phone on Thursday, Black was asked for his response to the opinion that he may be unfit to oversee NASCAR's drug program. "I guess I would say people enjoy having their own opinions about matters," he said. "The folks at NASCAR are fully aware of my credentials and my experience. I don't know what else I can say except people are entitled to their opinions."
Mayfield said every facet of his life has been affected in some way by the suspension.
"It's been everything. Financially, everybody knows why I'm not in Chicago. It's no secret why I'm not in Chicago. I don't have the money to take my car, my team, put it back together and go to Chicago," he said. "Brian France thinks he can go around and they can just keep stretching this out ... and this thing will stretch out forever, and what have I got? How am I going to win it?
"So all I got is the truth. That's all I got. All I can do is tell the truth, and I'm sick and tired of reading a bunch of lies. I want to do everything in my power to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from here on out.
"And I'm just tired of it. Mentally. Personally. It's what we deal with every day on a daily basis. I have nothing else to do. I go try to find a sponsor, nobody will talk to you. Try to find a ride, nobody will talk to you. So then what do I do? I'm not going to sit here anymore and get slammed by [NASCAR]."
NASCAR officials maintain that Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamine, an allegation he continues to deny. From the beginning, he has said a combination of Adderall (for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and Claritin-D resulted in a false positive test.
"I did not take methamphetamines. Can what I took show up as methamphetamines? It's yes," Mayfield said. "All over the world they've done it. You would not believe how many tests have been done that will show a false positive. But guess what? Doc Black doesn't believe in false positives."
Mayfield attacked NASCAR's policy, saying if the sanctioning body isn't careful, the government may step in.
"If they want Congress, they want the government to step in, they need to keep saying what they're saying. Because not everybody's wrong," Mayfield said. "They can't be right over everybody I've just stated here [in this interview].
"How does Brian France or Dr. Black know more than Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency? How are they professional enough to know more than Dr. Wadler? Now they think they know more than Judge Mullen?"
Unlike the NFL, Major League Baseball or the NBA, NASCAR has no players' union. Mayfield said that's part of his plight.
"You don't see these problems going on with Major League Baseball, NFL football. No other sports that we're supposed to be atop of, right? You don't see these problems," Mayfield said. "Guess what they've got? Unions. They've got people that look after them. They've got people that look after the players' association. They don't go through all this [stuff] we're going through right now. None of them.
"And they take their stars out. If their stars are taking steroids, or whatever, they're gone. There's nothing to protect them, but them, they know how long they're gone. Here? It's an open-book deal. It's whatever [NASCAR] says, any time they say it."
At Daytona International Speedway last weekend, some of Mayfield's competitors voiced concern about racing against him. NASCAR, too, said this week that his presence on the track could jeopardize the safety of fans and competitors alike.
Should his competitors worry about racing against him?
"Hell no. No concern whatsoever. None. My record speaks for itself," Mayfield said. "You know something else that pisses me off? They sit there and say I wrecked three out of five races I ran or whatever, that's a bunch of horse----. If you're going to make wrecking decide if somebody's on drugs or not, half the field's going to be gone."
Ultimately, Mayfield has grown tired of silence. He felt the time had come to defend himself.
"We've been trying to be professional about it. We've been trying to stay away from getting into all this public [banter]. And you know, I haven't hardly made any comments whatsoever about anything, have I?
"It's time to defend myself. And I feel like when things are falsely said like this, and I'm accused of this and accused of that, I'm going to defend myself. I'm just tired of it."
Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.