The indefinite suspension of GMS Racing driver Spencer Gallagher has brought to light the NASCAR drug testing policy.
NASCAR began random drug testing in the 2009 season. Prior to then, it only tested if it suspected a driver or crew member was using drugs. The new policy set up weekly random drug testing of NASCAR drivers, crew members and officials. NASCAR’s policy includes this introduction:
“Through a comprehensive testing program, NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy rules are designed to keep events safe for everyone and provide a level playing field. Strong testing programs save lives, prevent injury, gives NASCAR members additional reasons to say no to illegal drugs and help identify people with substance abuse issues and facilitate their treatment. To those ends, NASCAR prohibits the misuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, and any other substance used in a manner that affects safety or impacts the integrity of the competition, including — but not limited to — illegal or performance enhancing substances. All NASCAR members are responsible for whatever goes into their body.”
Here’s an overview of the policy:
The program administrator and medical review officer is Dr. Doug Aukerman, the director of sports medicine for Samaritan Health Services and senior associate athletic director/sports medicine at Oregon State University.
All NASCAR drivers, at-track crew members and officials must pass a drug test from an approved lab in the 90 days prior to applying for their NASCAR license. NASCAR can ask any member to submit to a drug test at any time for reasonable suspicion and conducts random drug tests on event weekends.
Drug Free Sport conducts the random selection (using a computerized method), collection and transport of urine, blood, saliva, hair, and/or breath specimens to Sports Medicine and Research Testing Laboratory, which then processes the samples. SMRTL, based in Salt Lake City, informs Aukerman of the results.
Specimen collection normally must be done within one hour of notification by NASCAR. Collectors must measure the temperature of the specimen and then split it into “A” and “B” samples, label the specimens and secure them for transport. There is a form to be filled out to identify any prescription and over-the-counter medications from the past three months. NASCAR is the exclusive “owner” of all specimens.
Refusing to test, failing to appear for a test, leaving before the test is over or failing to cooperate is considered a positive test. If it is at a race weekend, the violator is subject to ejection from the event. Refusing to authorize the release of any pertinent medical records to Aukerman also results in a suspension.
It is up to Aukerman to determine whether any use of drugs is used in a manner inconsistent with the instructions provided by the manufacturer, pharmacist or the prescribing physician, whether the medication causes a competitive advantage or impairs abilities. All medication must be prescribed less than six months prior to the event.
If Aukerman believes there has been a positive test, he notifies the violator, who has 72 hours to respond to any questions Aukerman has about why the test was positive. If Aukerman then determines the test is positive, the violator has the option to have the “B” sample tested. If Aukerman is concerned about the safety/integrity of competition, he can inform NASCAR of the failed “A” test, and NASCAR can temporarily suspend the violator before the “B” sample is tested. The violator has 72 hours to request the “B” sample be tested, and the violator can attend (at his/her own expense) that test, which is conducted in the SMRTL lab and must be done in the next 30 days. If the “B” sample is tested and it is confirmed positive, Aukerman notifies NASCAR of that fact and then NASCAR issues the indefinite suspension. If the “B” sample is negative, then it is not a violation. If Aukerman repeatedly attempts to get hold of the violator and the violator does not cooperate or respond, it can be a considered a positive test even if the “B” sample is never tested or that test is waived.
To be reinstated, Aukerman will provide for an evaluation with an appropriate substance abuse professional to advise on the creation of a “Road to Recovery” plan, which may include substance abuse counseling, treatment or rehabilitation. Aukerman determines how often the violator gets tested, for how long, and for what substances and when the violator has completed the plan.
The policy also states that any NASCAR member who voluntarily acknowledges a substance-abuse issue will not be suspended under the program — except that in the interest of safety, NASCAR can temporarily suspend the license until the NASCAR member has been rehabilitated to the satisfaction of NASCAR.
NASCAR’s policy states: “NASCAR Members are prohibited from using, having in their system, possessing, purchasing, selling and/or participating in the distribution of any drug that is illegal to possess, use, and/or distribute by the laws of the United States of America and/or any of its 50 states, regardless of the amount, at any time. Illegal acquisition and/or illegal distribution of any prescription or over-the-counter medication are strictly prohibited at any time.”
In Gallagher’s case, NASCAR will only say it was informed of a positive test Tuesday. It would not say when Gallagher was tested, when Gallagher was notified nor whether Gallagher asked for the “B” sample to be tested (nor if that test has already occurred). The timing of the process, including sending specimens to the lab in Salt Lake City, would have made it an unusually quick turnaround for a suspension from a failure at Talladega to be announced in less than a week.
NASCAR also has what it terms as a “non-exhaustive” list of prohibited drugs: Stimulants: Amphetamine, methamphetamine, ecstasy (MDMA), eve (MDEA), MDA, PMA, phentermine and other amphetamine derivatives and related compounds.
Narcotic analgesics: Alfentanil, fentanyl, hydromorphone, marijuana, meperidine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, propoxyphene, sufentanil, heroin and/or their chemical and pharmacological analogs and related compounds, codeine, dihydrocodeine, hydrocodone, and codeine analogs and related compounds (including those available over the counter in some countries if taken for a non-medical use).
Ephedrine class: Ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine and/or their chemical and pharmacological analogs and related compound as well as pseudoephedrine (even if purchased as an over the counter medication without a prescription) if used in a manner that is inconsistent with the instructions provided by the drug manufacturer (such as use in concentrations or amounts in excess of the manufacturer’s recommended dose); or in a manner or an amount that may cause an increased risk to health, safety, or an impairment of ability to perform his/her duties in relation to a NASCAR event.
Benzodoiazepines: Alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam (Ativan), oxazapam (Serax), temazepam (Restoril), Alpha-hydroxy-alprazolam (Xanax), nordiazepam (Valium) and/or their chemical and pharmacological analogs and related compounds.
Barbiturates: Amobarbital (Amytal), butalbital (Anolor 300, Esgic, Floricet, Fiorinal), butabarbital (Butisol), phenobarbital (Luminol, Solfoton), pentobarbital (Nembutal, Nembutal Sodium), secobarbital (Seconal) and/or their chemical and pharmacological analogs and related compounds.
Performance-enhancing Drugs (drivers, tire changers, tire carriers, jack men and gas men): Androstenediol, androstendione, bolasterone, boldenone, chloroxomesterone (dehydrochlormethyltestosterone), clostebol, dihydroepiandosterone, dihydrotestosterone, depitestosterone, dromostanolone, epitestosterone, 4-Chlortestosterone, fluoxymesterone, formebolone, furazabol, mesterolone, methandienone (methadrostenolone), methandriol, methenolone, methylclostebol, methyltestosterone, methyltrienolone, mibolerone, nondrolone, norandrostendione, norethandrolone, norethindrone, oxabolone, oxandrolone, oxymesterone, oxymetholone, stanozolol, stenbolone, testosterone, trenbolone. Muscle relaxers: Carisoprodol (Soma) and meprobamate (Miltown, Meprospan).
Sleep aids: Zolpidem (Ambien).
Beta blockers: Acebutolol, alprenolol, amosulalol, atenolol, betaxolol, bisoprolol, carteolol, esmolol, landiolol, levobunolol, mepindolol, metipranolol, metoprolol, nadolol, nebivolol, oxprenolol, penbutolol, pindolol, propranolol, sotalol, tillsolol, timolol. Anti-estrogens: Including without limitation, anastrozole, tamoxifen, formestane, ATD, clomiphene, SERMS (nolvadex), Arimidex, clomid, evista, fulvestrant, aromatase inhibitors (Androst-3, 5-dien, 17-dione), etc.
Alcohol: NASCAR rules prohibit use of alcohol 12 hours prior to activity. A failed test is a BAC of 0.02 percent.
The use of masking agents, purposefully diluting the urine sample, providing false samples and using Aromatase inhibitors that may biologically manipulate the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio, and/or using epitestosterone to artificially alter the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio is illegal.
NASCAR also warns about combining substances: “For example, a combination of drinking 10 cups of espresso, taking cold medicine and using prescribed sleep medication will cause a safety risk, although each substance in small amounts by themselves may not necessarily result in a violation.”