A major topic of conversation over the weekend, and into this week has been NASCAR’s announcement of their improved drug testing policy for next season. If you don’t know already, the policy says that all drivers, over-the-wall crew members, and officials will be tested before the season starts. Then, each week, individuals from each group will be tested randomly at the track. My partner here at TNI wrote a good post about the policy on Sunday night, but after a some thought and a a bit of help from a Twitter friend, I decided I’d comment on the situation.
I’ll start off by saying that except for the occasional adult beverage, recreational substances aren’t really my thing. Never have been, never will be. And because of this, the new testing policy doesn’t really bother me. I’ve been tested before as apart of the pre-employment process, so it’s not something I haven’t done before. And except for the uncomfortable feeling the whole experience gives me, I don’t really care.
For a lot of teams, especially the bigger ones, drug tests have already become part of the deal anyway. Roush Fenway Racing and Kevin Harvick Inc. are two examples of teams that have mandatory drug tests for employees. If you don’t pass, you don’t work there.
I think if NASCAR wants to be considered alongside the NFL and MLB as a legitimate major sport, they definitely need to get on par with their testing, and this new policy is a step in the right direction. Things can get dangerous in a hurry during a race, and I think it goes without saying that you want everyone around you to be in a right frame of mind out there. Drivers and crew members alike.
Besides the issues with illegal drugs, I also think its important that guys, especially crew members, aren’t using performance-enhancing substances. Just like every other sport, I want the competition to be fierce, but fair. I don’t want a guy to beat me out for a changer spot, or have my team beat off pit road because some decided to “hit the juice.”
Now, while this testing thing isn’t a big deal to me, I will tell you that there are some people in the garage area that will need to make a few changes before next season starts. It’s certainly not a large group, but there are a few. And before you start asking me to name names, let me stop you. Journo and myself don’t have any problem throwing out the occasional rumor and breaking a little news, but when it comes to that kind of thing, you won’t find it here.
Come next season, I’ll be one of the guys lining up to take my test. And during the year, if NASCAR comes calling, I’ll gladly do the deed again. Do I know how many guys will get caught? I sure don’t. Do I think NASCAR is going to make failed tests public knowledge? I couldn’t tell ya. But I do think my colleague said it best in his post: It’s About Time.