Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Updated: July 27, 11:26 AM ET
Amphetamines caused positive test
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Suspended Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger tested positive for amphetamines, his business manager confirmed Wednesday.
Tara Ragan, the vice president of Walldinger Racing Inc., said Allmendinger was told when initially suspended by NASCAR on July 7 that amphetamines were found in his drug testing sample taken a week earlier. She said the term was so broad that she opted to refer to it as a stimulant.
Brand names of medications that contain or metabolize into amphetamines include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Desoxyn, Didrex, ProCentra and Vyvanse.
Amphetamines also are used recreationally as a performance enhancer, often referred to on the street as "speed." When overused, they can be psychologically and physically addictive.
"With amphetamines, there are a whole slew of things it can be," Ragan told ESPN.com. "When we say we don't know what it is, what we were trying to ascertain is what is it in that grouping?
"In our head, we don't know. In fact, when the (medical review officer) first called and said he tested positive for amphetamines, the first thing we said was, 'What does that mean?'"
Ragan said the hope is Dr. David Black, who runs Aegis Sciences Corporation in Nashville, Tenn., which tested Allmendinger's "A" and "B" urine samples, will help clarify that Thursday when Allmendinger talks to him to be assigned a health care facility for assessment.
Meanwhile, Ragan said there are plans to have Allmendinger tested again by an independent laboratory to see whether amphetamines still show up in his system.
"We weren't being evasive," Ragan said. "In my head, no, we didn't know what the drug was. Amphetamines was too general for us when trying to figure out what it is."
Earlier Wednesday, Allmendinger enrolled in NASCAR's Road to Recovery program, which is mandated for reinstatement after a failed drug test.
The decision was made less than 24 hours after Allmendinger was suspended indefinitely after his "B" sample urine test supported the original test that violated NASCAR's substance abuse policy.
"While we await further information from testing to determine the cause (of the positive test), we have notified NASCAR that AJ will participate in the Road to Recovery program starting immediately," Ragan said. "As we have stated earlier, we respect NASCAR's drug testing policies. They are first and foremost in place to protect drivers and AJ being among those.
"We fully support the program, and as more details become available, we will share them."
Allmendinger has said through Ragan that the positive test was a stimulant that could have been the result of a supplement or over-the-counter drug he was using.
Black said he was "delighted" Allmendinger has opted to enroll in the recovery program as opposed to fighting it in court, as Jeremy Mayfield did in 2009. He said Allmendinger will report first to him.
While the length of the recovery program varies, Black said it typically takes at least several months to complete. In many cases, it has taken at least five months, which would end Allmendinger's 2012 season.
"That's a reasonable amount of time," Black said of the five months. "Certainly, there is a substantial amount of follow-up testing to ensure the individual did not engage in any drug usage that was in violation of the program. There also has to be some elapsed time to ensure the driver is in compliance."
Black said Allmendinger first will be directed, through him, to a health care facility to for assessment. He said the facility usually is local to the individual, which means Allmendinger would be evaluated in the Charlotte, N.C., area.
Based on the recommendation of the facility, Black said, Allmendinger has to "cooperate and complete" what is recommended, whether that is treatment, counseling or rehabilitation.
While this is taking place, Allmendinger will be drug tested "repeatedly over a period of time."
Black said the first and most important step in the recovery program is for the individual participating to be fully committed.
"Anybody who is dealing with a drug use issue has to really want to address the issue," Black said. "They have to cooperate, comply to the recommended treatment. Really, it's up more to the individual than anybody else.
"People can assist and help put the person back in competition, but it's always up to the individual to be committed to the program."
Black defended the process that landed Allmendinger in trouble, just as he did in 2009, when Mayfield argued his positive test for methamphetamines was the result of combining Claritin D for allergies with Adderall for hyperactivity.
"From my perspective, the system worked exactly like it should have worked," Black said. "The last time the system worked the way it should have. We just had an individual who didn't want to enroll in the recovery process."
NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said the governing body also was pleased that Allmendinger has enrolled in the recovery program.
"It's designed, as proven to provide a roadmap leading to a return to competition, and we wish him the best of luck," Higdon said. "As we have with other competitors, we look forward to the day when the program administrator recommends him for reinstatement."
Higdon said the governing body officially has received the document signing up for the recovery program. Allmendinger will be contacted Thursday morning to set up his evaluation.
Allmendinger's future when he completes the recovery program remains in doubt. Penske Racing will put Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 22 Dodge this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and at Pocono the following week.
Allmendinger was in the middle of a one-year deal with Penske Racing, which might have to make a decision on 2013 before the driver has completed the program.
Team owner Roger Penske has said the decision will be all his. Team president Tim Cindric told ESPN.com that it's too early to speculate on Allmendinger's future with the organization.
Cindric told ESPN's "NASCAR Now" that Penske Racing officials will take time next week to look at the whole process and how the organization moves forward.
He was not ready to commit to Allmendinger when the driver completes the recovery program.
"There's a huge amount of complexities to the overall situation," Cindric said. "They facts are, when you look at the overall situation, we all agree as far as the rules within NASCAR to participate within those rules. There are consequences when you don't."
While Cindric said it's too early to speculate, he spoke highly of Hornish and his relationship with primary sponsor Shell Pennzoil going back to his IndyCar days.
"We know Sam," Cindric said. "Sam has a really good relationship with Pennzoil. For us to continue that continuity is certainly going to be paramount going forward.
"In a lot of ways, it's an opportunity. For us to keep that continuity is something that will pay dividends in the short term."
Regardless, Black sees no reason Allmendinger can't complete the program and return to racing at some point.
"We've enjoyed great success in the program," he said. "Certainly, we've had some failures, but those that came in determined to do the right thing, we've enjoyed great success."