NASCAR like many of the major American sports has a drug testing policy. Per the policy NASCAR institutes so many drug tests per season and if a driver were to fail one of those drug tests they would find themselves in some serious hot water. Last weekend in Fontana, Denny Hamlin missed the Auto Club 400 for what was believed to have been a severe sinus infection. In the coming days NASCAR and Hamlin were quiet in regards to updating his condition, as a result the rumor mill kicked in.
Later in the week the NASCAR world would learn that it was a small rusty piece of metal lodged in Hamlin’s eye that was causing the headaches, eye pressure and vision problems, not a sinus infection. Some people began to question why it was that neither of the infield care doctors were able to detect the piece of metal Saturday night before the race or again on the morning of the race. Hamlin came to the defense of those doctors;
They thought there was something really bad going on behind the eye. They didn’t have the equipment in the infield care center; you need to get a CT scan. It was just the metal that was overlooked, but she had a pretty fancy … machine she was looking through to find it. … It’s unfair to put it on the infield care center or the nurses who work with NASCAR to put them under responsibility for not finding it.
It took a specialist to find it. There were two separate perfectly good doctors in the care center at California that both of them could not see it.
It was also during this interview that Hamlin addressed the more pressing issue. Some of Hamlin and NASCAR’s detractors feel that Hamlin faked his injury in order to get out of a mandatory drug test. Although nobody has come out and said that Hamlin is on drugs or using performance enhancers; one would have to assume that if you think he faked an injury to avoid the test than you’re implying he is on something. Hamlin was not amused with the fact that this idea was floating around.
People who think negatively of me or think that we side-stepped some kind of drug test or something is ridiculous. I’m in one of the top three cars in NASCAR. I’d have to be an absolute moron — moron — to risk that.
I have a daughter that I have to provide for for a really long time. … I don’t drink at all hardly, ever. I’ve never done drugs ever. I’m as clean as they come. I don’t know why people question who I am outside the racetrack because I worked too hard to get here, for one, to throw it all away.
I’m not going to let those people drag me down. It’s just frustrating.
According to NASCAR’s drug policy, had Hamlin tested positive for a substance he would have been suspended. After being suspended there would have been a series of steps that he would have needed to follow in order to be reinstated. Click HERE to view NASCAR’s drug policy. The most recent driver to fail a drug test in NASCAR was AJ Allmendinger back in July of 2012; Allmendinger was reinstated in September of 2012.
Hamlin has never had any documented drug or alcohol issues on or off of the track. The fact that these rumors came up were most likely the result of Hamlin and NASCAR being so stingy with the details of what was going on with him. If you want to critique Hamlin for anything, maybe he should be critiqued for saying that he is one of the top-three cars in NASCAR.
Source: Bob Pockrass, Sporting News