Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nuances and NASCAR drug policy

I think I might have finally figured something out about life. I'm within a year of my 50th birthday, so I imagine you might say that it's about time.

There's always the possibility that I could be dead wrong, but in this case I really don't think that's true. In fact, the realization that there will undoubtedly be people who think I am dead wrong is a big reason I think I am right.

I figured this out while thinking and talking about racing the other day, but I really do think it has universal application.

Here it is: The principal conflict in the human condition is the search for absolutes when balanace is the best we can ever hope to acheive.

Let's start out with some simple examples connected to NASCAR, since this is primarily a NASCAR blog.

Take the car of tomorrow. There are fans who believe it should be abandoned dead in the water because it has not proved to be an instant panacea for competitive ills. Since the car did not immediately solve the aero push issue, it is of no value and must never be used again.

On the other side, there's the argument that absolutely no changes should be made to the car because if one or two of five teams have an advantage with it they've earned it. If you pull the trigger on any changes, the fans of the team that's ahead at that moment in time feel persecuted.

Or, take drug testing. Most fans think drug testing is a no-brainer. Some think drivers ought to have to submit samples before every race or after every wreck. You're either clean or you're not.

Both issues, of course, are far more nuanced.

The new race car is no different from any car NASCAR has ever used. A perfect balance between safety and competition might never be found. Neither will any car ever make it possible for a team with $1 million to compete on a consistent basis with a multicar team that has $100 million.

ut that doesn't mean that NASCAR should not strive to make the cars safer or built in such a way that dollars aren't always a trump card in competition.

The part of drug-testing that is a no-brainer is that NASCAR needs a policy that does beyond testing at its discretion. But the idea that it's easy to decide what's in bounds and what's not is absurd.

Prescription drugs, steroids and alcohol, for starters, all create tough decisions that would have to be addressed by any coherent and effective policy.

No matter what side of the political spectrum you sit on, this same principle applies.

Whatever you think the right answer about Iraq is, for example, it's not that either that we should pull out tomorrow or that we should continue to fight there indefinitely without figuring out what's the right way to conclude that effort.

Gun control is not a yes or no question. There's no yea or nay when it comes to figuring out what should be done about health care, the housing crisis or Social Security, no matter how much we'd like for there to be.

There is room for absolutes in sports. A ball is fair or it's foul, a player is in bounds or he's out of bounds and a race car either passes inspection or it doesn't (at least, that's how it should be).

But those instances where you can draw a line and say that's it are a lot more rare than most people want them to be.


Anonymous said...

Cut and dried. If a drug is illegal, it's illegal. Anyone found with an illegal drug in their system should be penalized. period.

Anonymous said...

They need to check the front office of NASCAR I think Brain France has drove while drinking.the rules they come up with looks like they are on drug

Anonymous said...

David, this is indeed a black and white issue. They inspect cars pre race and post race. They need to inspect the drivers as well. NASCAR has done so much in the area of equipment to ensure driver safety (new car, SAFER barrier, HANS device, new seats), they need to ensure that the part that matters most - the guy behind the wheel making the decisions - is safe as well. Keep in mind that its not just the other drivers that are in danger, its the guys on pit road that are most in jeopardy if someone under makes a mistake while trying to pit.

It's time for NASCAR to get their heads out of the sand on this one. The drivers want random testing, the fans want random testing, the media is calling for random testing, and common sense dictates there needs to be random testing.

Come on NASCAR, do it now as opposed to after a tragedy occurs. You owe it to every member of the garage to keep them safe at all times.

Anonymous said...

Does NASCAR need a Drug and Drinking policy? YES

How many times can some of those in the garage state, we have seen, smelled or saw drinking and drugs????

David, there is a need for absoultes in NASCAR or any sport, or any form of human life, whether you have a HARD CARD, or not or work for anyone..

Give half of the drivers a breath test at some places and see whom fails. It should hold true for any media, NASCAR member holding a hard card or anyone with a HOT PASS ...

No qualms about it...

But do you think "said sponsor" wants it out or Mike H, Brian is about to call a driver in and tell him he cant compete that night??? Never going to happen sadly enough..

Cant say the drug abouse is rampant , but its there, can sa the drinking is something frightening and damn sure needs to be addressed


okla21fan said...

The hauler drivers are subject to a more stringent drug testing policy just getting the equipment to the tracks. The reason for that is simple and it is for safety. Why would Nascar took a similar stance? Its a no brainer.

catchcan9 said...

For a drug policy to be effective. It must be uniform and fair. How can you enforce one when Brian france was found to violate? Before you look at drivers you must start at the front office.
Start in the front office with random drug testing by outside 3rd party personnel. Don't try the old ISC shuffle by having it done by a ISC owned company. Doing this will create credibility. Credibility and honesty thats all.
David- Do you think they really exist in NASCAR?

Anonymous said...

NASCAR needs to open its eyes and take a look at what other motorsport governing bodies are doing about drugs / doping. Get rid of its very insular "if we didn't think of it then its not a good idea" attitude.

The FIA has a pretty comprehensive policy including exact definitions of what is and isn't allowed. The whole thing is on their website. It would seem like a pretty good place for NASCAR to start.

NASCAR appears to be working on the assumption that because some people pass and some people fail its test then the system must be working, when in fact it proves nothing or the sort.

Anonymous said...

I think the issue is that NASCAR does not want to be any more responsible than it already is for drug testing. It does not want to decide what's legal or illegal and what to do if someone needs to be sat out because they crossed the line. They want to leave it up to the owners to pony up the money for testing and be responsible punishment. Mike Helton himself hinted at this in his response to the media.
I also feel that NASCAR feels it will loose something to the stick and ball sports by instituting a stonger drug testing policy.

I just hope that NASCAR will see the light and step up and do something before something tragic happens.

Anonymous said...

How many drug companies pump money into NA$CAR?...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
How many drug companies pump money into NA$CAR?...

Are you comparing Claritin to Heroin? I hope not...

Cedar Posts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedar Posts said...

I was born a NASCAR fan, but over the years I've found racing's roots in the dirt tracks more my style. Simple and less complicated.

For example the sign at Lancaster Speedway:

"Any driver caught under the influence of any DRUGS or ALCOHOL will be disqualified from competition"

Anonymous said...

Cedar posts...

I agree with you in that it shouldnt be a hard thing, but then there is the issue of what is 'under the influence' as opposed to testing positive. In many drug tests, if you smoke pot in January, it may still show up in you several months later, such as a hair test. Not that I'm against drug testing in NASCAR (I'm all for it - check out my blog on the topic, but whatever policy they come up with needs to be comprehensive and allow for every possible situation, such as prescription drugs (i.e. Tyenol with Codiene for a bad cough will get you a positive test for opiates just as shooting up black tar heroin will).