A Tale Of Two Drug Tests …..

May 12, 2009 |

In the span of 3 days, a couple pro athletes were suspended by their respective leagues, for failed drug tests. Manny Ramirez and Jeremy Mayfield are pro athletes. Manny Ramirez and Jeremy Mayfield are both on the outside looking in ….. and this is where the similarities end.

Lets be honest with each other – every sports fan in America knows Manny Ramirez and his antics. However, Jeremy Mayfield’s name is really only a staple within the ranks of NASCAR fans, as well as the purest of crazies in all sports. One guy is a modern day icon and the other could walk down Pratt Street without turning a single head.

Yet, Ramirez and Mayfield have both ran afoul of their sport’s sanctioning body and its drug testing program. To his credit, Ramirez hasn’t disputed the result – although, I don’t believe the male dysfunction excuses. Manny is just being Manny, as they would say.

Jeremy Mayfield’s situation is a bit less clear. NASCAR suspended him prior to Saturday night’s “Southern 500,” in Darlington, South Carolina. According to NASCAR spokesman, Jim Hunter, Mayfield’s urine specimen from a test administered in Richmond, a week prior, resulted positive for an undisclosed drug compound.

Hunter has confirmed the positive test result was not attributed to alcohol or a PED (performance enhancing drug) substance. And, Dr. David Black, who heads up NASCAR’S drug testing group confirmed the substance is not of the “prescription variety.”

Hmmm ….. we’re able to narrow the list of suspected drugs, huh?

While the specific situations of Manny Ramirez and Jeremy Mayfield serve as an embarrassment for Major league Baseball and NASCAR, respectively, each sport has a differing interest moving forward.

Major League Baseball is trying to rid its culture of guys who cheat the integrity of the sport and it’s legendary records and achievements. Whether an offender throws a ball or hits a ball, they’re robbing the history of the game ….. and negatively impacting the current competition.

NASCAR has a totally different set of problems.

The fear within NASCAR does not regard records, when drug use is considered. Indeed, there are drugs that can enhance one’s ability to concentrate – for short periods of time. And, I suppose steroids or HGH could benefit a driver, given the physical demands of handling a 4,000 pound monster at nearly 200 miles per hour.

Yet, the real concern is waged on drugs that impair the ability to drive a car. These substances – of recreational and prescription means, can most certainly inhibit a driver from making the right decision in a “split second.” Heck, we see the evidence of bad decisions – by SOBER drivers – all the time.

NASCAR has a real problem.

Forget steroids and their impact on the game of baseball. A “high” driver can kill himself and a few others. Now, that’s a crisis …..

I’ve met Jeremy Mayfield numerous times and each encounter has been pleasant. He’s affable, cordial and well mannered. Before Saturday, his two biggest claims to fame included an old Quaker State commercial that still has NASCAR fans jeering “Heyyyyy Jeremy” whenever he walks by.

Oh, and he’s the GUY who gained cult celebrity with the racing community, as he rattled Dale Earnhardt’s cage with a little of his own medicine, in the form of rough driving, on a Monday afternoon, in Pocono – nearly a decade ago. People still remember that race and win.

If there were ever an occasion when I’d like to find out a test result was mistaken, Jeremy Mayfield’s situation would be the one. He’s not greedy, nor selfish. He’s a likeable guy and “down to earth.” But, I’m pretty convinced of drug tests and their credibility.

Still, Jeremy Mayfield’s failed test is much more important than that of Manny Ramirez’s ….. even if the lesser impacting story is getting the most attention.