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Jeremy Mayfield Fails Drug Test

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) - Jeremy Mayfield was suspended
indefinitely by NASCAR on Saturday for failing a random drug test,
becoming the first driver to violate a toughened new policy that
went into effect this season.
Mayfield tested positive for a banned substance last weekend at
Richmond International Raceway. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter would
not reveal what banned substance Mayfield used, but Hunter said it
was not an alcohol-related offense.
"There is no place for substance abuse in our sport," Hunter
said.
NASCAR also suspended two crew members for failed tests at
Richmond.
Tony Martin, a crew member for the car John Andretti drove last
weekend at Richmond, and Ben Williams, a crew member for the
Nationwide Series car Matt Kenseth drove last weekend, were both
suspended indefinitely.
Mayfield, who is driving a car this season he owns himself,
failed to qualify for Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at
Darlington Speedway.
He did not immediately return a voice mail message left on his
cell phone Saturday by The Associated Press.
The suspension applies to Mayfield's roles as owner and driver
of the No. 41 Toyota. Although the car can race next week at Lowe's
Motor Speedway with another driver, Hunter said it cannot be
entered with Mayfield as the owner.
John Andretti, who finished 32nd in last week's race at
Richmond, said he's not worried that the driver next to him might
be driving impaired and applauded NASCAR's tougher drug policy.
"I think it's a great thing that they (NASCAR) do," Andretti
said from Indianapolis, where he's preparing for the Indy 500 later
this month. "And whoever they catch and confirm, so there's no
mistake, shame on them."
Just days after the Daytona 500, one of Mayfield's crew members
became the first person punished under NASCAR's new drug policy for
a failed test. Mayfield fired Paul Chodora after he was suspended
by NASCAR.
"We as an organization appreciate NASCAR's drug testing
policies and policing efforts as it makes the sport stronger
overall," Mayfield said after firing Chodora. "If Paul doesn't
comply with NASCAR's reinstatement process, then he will no longer
be an employee of Mayfield Motorsports."
Mayfield, a two-time qualifier for the Chase for the
championship, has five Cup victories in 433 career starts, but none
since 2005 at Michigan. He was fired by Evernham Motorsports in
late 2006 and bounced around until this season, when he formed
Mayfield Motorsports.
He threw the team together in less than a month but made
headlines as the underdog who raced his way into the season-opening
Daytona 500. But he made just four of the next 10 races, and is
currently 44th in the Cup standings.
NASCAR announced a new, tougher drug policy last September. 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.
Under the new rules, all drivers and crew members had to be
tested before the season began. Random tests are scheduled
throughout the year, and at least four drivers are tested each
weekend. Hunter said the drivers are selected through an automated
computer program.
Former NASCAR driver Dario Franchitti was stunned by the news.
"I know the IndyCar drug policy is pretty stringent, and I know
NASCAR has really been ramping it up," he said from Indianapolis,
where he qualified third. "I think it's very important when you're
in a car that you have to be there 100 percent."
Trucks driver Ron Hornaday last year admitted using testosterone
for more than a year - before it was added to the sport's banned
list - to treat a medical issue. Hornaday has Grave's disease, a
condition he is now treating with Synthroid, which replaces a
hormone normally produced by the thyroid gland to regulate the
body's energy and metabolism.
NASCAR did not punish him for the testosterone admission because
the cream did not enhance his performance or impair his judgment.
NASCAR's past policy allowed for testing any time series
officials had "reasonable suspicion" to question a driver or crew
member. Fike's admission forced NASCAR to begin a weekly, random
process.
On Wednesday, former Nationwide Series driver Kevin Grubb was
found dead in a Richmond-area motel room from what police said was
an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Grubb was
suspended indefinitely by NASCAR after a second failed drug test in
2006 and never raced again in a NASCAR sanctioned event.
Shane Hmiel, who made 119 starts in NASCAR's top three national
series, received a lifetime suspension in 2006 after a third failed
drug test. Hmiel, who made seven Cup starts in 2004 and 2005, won
the Truck Series race at Las Vegas in 2004.
---
Associated Press Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis
contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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