NASCAR finally is on par with mainstream major league sports.
But for the wrong reason. One of its stars has failed a random drug test.
The hottest topic before stock-car racing’s annual “all-star game” tonight has been what drug Sprint Cup Series driver Jeremy Mayfield had in his system that led to an indefinite suspension a week ago after he failed a random test two weeks ago.
NASCAR chairman Brian France on Friday classified Mayfield’s positive test as “a serious violation” of the sport’s drug policy.
And France would not reveal which banned substance Mayfield had in his system when tested May 1.
“There’s no benefit to anyone to jeopardize someone else’s privacy. If we thought there was a benefit, we would probably rethink that,” he said.
Cup driver Jeff Burton, however, said releasing the type of substance would provide credibility to the testing program.
“It would potentially provide more harm or cause more harm to the individual than it did in some cases, but they made that choice,” Burton said. “I can’t believe I’m saying this because I believe in privacy; that’s one of my rights as an American citizen. (But) once I’ve given up the right to be drug tested, then I’m OK with releasing (the results) because I think it adds credibility to the program.”
But NASCAR can do pretty much whatever it wants because it is owned solely by the France family.
NASCAR considers race-car drivers “independent contractors.” It thwarted the only serious attempt to form a drivers union in 1969.
That might be good and bad.
• GET OFF! STADIUM — The Minnesota Twins will have rooftop seating at their new open-air ballpark next year.
Team president Dave St. Peter said an area for 150 to 300 fans will be created with bleacher seating on top of offices and a sports bar near the left-field foul pole.
In the land where the state bird jokingly is considered the mosquito, fans must have enjoyed watching games in the indoor Metrodome.
Watch for the team to sign OFF! insect repellent to sponsor the roof-top section.
• HOCKEY PAYBACK — Remember when no one wanted a Canadian nickel and some of our northern neighbor’s sports teams flocked south of the border?
NHL teams in Winnipeg and Quebec were exported to the United States in 1995.
The U.S. economic climate is so bad that a reversal of the migration could be coming.
Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes put the team into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week and plans to sell it to a group led by Jim Balsillie, who intends to relocate the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario.
That notion did not go over well with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“You cannot have a stable league if franchises can be uprooted at the blink of an eye on a personal whim,” Bettman said to Bloomberg News.
The scenario could not have been imagined a few years ago.
It looks as if Satan is lacing up his skates, because hell could be about to freeze over.
COMPILED BY JEFF WOLF LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL