Opinion: New Drug Policy Needed

I guess I'm naive.

I never thought someone would drive a racecar or truck under the influence of anything but Gatorade and adrenaline.

Aaron Fike proved me wrong.

Fike's admission that he actually competed in a Craftsman Truck Series race after shooting heroin is a bombshell that should be a wake-up call to NASCAR.

Until now, NASCAR has instituted a "reasonable suspicion" policy regarding drugs and substance abuse.

There is not a mandatory testing program or policy within the garage area.

That way of doing business needs to move forward immediately and many drivers agree wholeheartedly.

“I had a long conversation with NASCAR the last time we had this policy brought up in the end of the year last year and it almost seems like it went on deaf ears,” said Kevin Harvick. “I’m disappointed with the fact that we’re in a case where we have to have a reaction instead of being proactive about the situation."

“To me, it was just kind of one of those meetings where they were content to listen to what I had to say and that was about it. My name is not Jeff Gordon.”

NASCAR media relations spokesperson Kerry Tharp denies the sanctioning body doesn't listen to drivers on any manner.

"Now, they might not always come out of the meeting with the answer they’re looking for, but we listen,” Tharp said.

“The responsibility here rests across the board – with the drivers and competitors, owners and teams and NASCAR. We test an individual when we have reasonable suspicion and a positive test results in severe consequences and is a career-changing moment for that person.

“No system is flawless, but we believe our zero-tolerance policy that is in place has served the sport well.”

While NASCAR's zero tolerance policy has been implemented in the case of Fike as well as Shane Hmiel and Tyler Walker, Harvick and others feel more needs to be done.

Fike's admission of driving while under the influence angered Harvick in particular who believes that may be more than the tip of the iceberg.

"I have been in a race with him and I know for a fact he’s not the only one,” Harvick said. “There’s another driver that is suspended that I can almost guarantee you was in the race car when he was under the influence, and that pisses me off.”

A random testing policy made mandatory across the board is something many drivers want.

"I would love it,” Tony Stewart said. “I’ve never been asked to take one yet and I think it should be mandatory that we have random drug testing all the time, I think non-stop through the year. … I’m all for doing random drug testing from the time we go to Daytona until the time we finish the season at Homestead. I think it’s a great idea.”

NASCAR should not wait one more second to announce random tests and a tougher policy. Other sanctioning bodies - like the IRL and NHRA - already have tougher policies in place. NASCAR needs to follow suit.

Why not get out ahead of this situation rather than wait to react? By announcing a more detailed and stringent policy, NASCAR would hit a PR homerun and hopefully add to its defense of a potential tragedy.

A driver under the influence of any drug or substance that injures or kills fellow competitors, a crewmember or a fan would devastate the sport and most likely end it.

NASCAR has led the way in a variety of areas including safety with initiatives in the cars and at the track.

Ramping up its defense against drugs in the sport is a must.

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