Wednesday, July 25, 2012

NASCAR's Higdon: Allmendinger Spokesperson's Statements "Inaccurate"

AJ Allmendinger was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR late yesterday, after a much-anticipated test of the driver’s `B’ sample tested positive for a banned substance.  

AJ Allmendinger
Shortly after that announcement, Allmendinger’s longtime business manager, Tara Ragan issued a written statement saying, ““This was not the news we wanted to hear and we will work to get to the source of what may have caused this. To that end, we have secured the services of an independent lab to conduct thorough testing on every product within AJ’s home and motor coach to find what might collaborate with his test, which created results that were within nanograms of accepted standards."   

In subsequent statements to the media, Ragan claimed that NASCAR’s substance abuse testing agent, Aegis Analytical Laboratories, has not informed Allmendinger of the specific compound that triggered his suspension. 

NASCAR’s Managing Director of Communication David Higdon flatly denied that claim today, telling SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s SiriusXM Speedway with Dave Moody that Allmendinger has been informed of the substance in question. “When the Medical Review Officer is informed of a positive test result on the `A’ sample, he speaks directly to the competitor and alerts him to the exact substance,” said Higdon. “The subsequent call to NASCAR is the same; (revealing) the exact substance that he tested positive for.  AJ certainly knows that.

Higdon also disputed Ragan’s claim that the level of banned substance in Allmendinger’s sample was within nanograms of accepted standards, calling it “inaccurate information. It was characterized as just over the threshold,” said Higdon, “but that’s just not the case. It was over the threshold by a significant amount. It’s unfortunate that information has been put out there… and honestly, I don’t think (it) is helping him. I think the best thing for him to do is to get into the program and meet with people who have only one interest; and that is to help him get his life back (and) get his career back on track.  That’s all we care about right now… (but) unfortunately there has been some inaccurate information out there.”

Higdon revealed that NASCAR is allowed to reveal the substance publically, but has traditionally elected not to do so.

NASCAR's David Higdon
“Our rulebook – through the driver/owner agreement – allows us to announce any of this information,” he said. “We have chosen not to do so, primarily because we are trying to provide the best road back. In most of the cases we’ve had so far, we feel like the privacy (we provide) is best for them. That’s what the substance abuse experts tell us, and if (the competitor) chooses to announce the information themselves, that’s fine. That’s our policy, we feel it has worked (in the past) and we will continue to stick by it.”

Higdon confirmed that the `B’ sample test is more complicated than the initial `A’ test, providing both NASCAR and the competitor with additional specific information on the offending substance.

“(The `B’ test) is not the exact same test,” he said. “It tests only for the category of substances that the `A’ sample test has already identified. The `A’ sample takes longer, because we are testing for a wide range of different substances. The `B’ sample is tested solely for that particular category. That’s why you saw a quicker turnaround on the `B’ sample. But both tests are conducted on the exact same urine sample that was provided… at Kentucky.” 

Higdon said NASCAR is not concerned with the degree of the infraction, only that an infraction has occurred.

“The way this testing works is not all that dissimilar from a Breathalyzer,” he said. “Our perspective is that that you’re either positive, or you’re not. We’re not interested in discussing the levels, (but) we are interested in setting the record straight. And when our program gets called into question, we will defend it. We think it is the right program for the sport (and) the right program for our members.”

He also said NASCAR is not interested in debating how a banned substance got into a competitor’s system.

“If you test positive, you test positive. Full stop. That’s the way it works. Ultimately, we need to have a very clear, black-and-white program where we (NASCAR) remove ourselves from the process and allow the program administrators and experts do their jobs. 

Higdon said NASCAR’s Road to Recovery is tailor-made for the needs of the individual driver or crewmember.

“It is completely customized for the individual,” he said. “An evaluation will be done by the Program Administrator, evaluating the facts and information about the substance, having an interview with the competitor and determining what is the right path. It is very much customized to determine what makes the most sense to get them back on the path. Each and every one is different, because each individual is different and the substance they test positive for is different.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images


  1. Great article Dave. I have heard Tara Ragan on three different interviews contradict herself. When that happens it makes you wonder what is going on. One explanation is that Allmendinger gave her bad information. I am glad that NASCAR gave the media and fans information on this since the info we have been given by the driver's rep appears to be a "Three Bears Story."

  2. Amphetamin is a psychostimulant drug of the phenethylamine class that produces increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite. Recreational users of amphetamine have coined numerous street names for amphetamine, such as "speed". Very sad A.J. if you would just step up to the plate and accept responsibilty, but until then it's only going to get worse.

  3. Anthony11:04 PM

    It feels like in a way another Jeremy Mayfield why doesn't AJ just man up be a man take responsibility for what he did, do the program and get his career back instead of making excuses. There is more pressing issues with in Nascar to discuss and the more this is discuss it doesn't do AJ or Nascar any good.

  4. Anonymous11:25 PM

    this coming from a sport that gets money from the company that makes garbage like 5 hr energy, what a bunch of damn hypocrites. along with all the other crap they have sold their fans for years.

  5. No doubt the AJ spin machine is working overtime. Just don't understand why some people never get it: sometimes the lie is worse. Either tell the truth or shut your mouth, don't tell us a sob story only to have NASCAR drop kick you by calling you on your BS. Wow, I will wait to hear more, but after this story I am thinking AJ is gonna lose a lot of respect.

  6. thanks Dave..I always look forward to your articles on what ever has happened in NASCAR. You always get the straight scoop on things. Another sad story, but I have a better understanding of what's happened so far.

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  8. Dave,
    Yours was the first article I read on AJ, other than twitter feed.
    Was wondering what she meant by searching his home and motorcoach. How would he NOT know?
    Enjoy your honesty and integrity following you on twitter, will you be in Indy this weekend? Can't make the race, but would like to get down Saturday and take it all in.

    Thanks for what you do.


  9. Anonymous7:49 AM

    It seems three weeks would have been enough time to gather up everything AJ uses and have it checked. Regarding sports drinks, I drink TWO Monster energy coffees on average each day (drink more Monster) and I have yet to fail a drug test at work. Bottom line, man up and get healthy then get back to racing ASAP. And get another business manaher.

    Doug from NJ

  10. So, if this "substance" is non addictive, potentially this "Road to Recovery" program could be quite short??

  11. As you said on your show yesterday, Tara is doing Dinger no favors. Either state the facts or remain silent. You can't reasonably think, that if you make statements that call out the integrity of another party, or cloud the facts; And you both know the facts. You have to expect the other party to counter you. Publicly. And she's not the one that ends up looking the worse for it in the long run.

    Randy LaJoie was a breath of fresh air! Not only for what he brought to the conversation yesterday, but how he handled his own misstep. He is the first public person I can recall in my life that stood up and said 'YUP! I did it! Now lets fix it and move on.' This is how I raise my son, how I was raised. Do it, own it. It only gets worse by trying to cloud the details.

    Look. We still don't know what it is, and by not saying anything, it opens up the door for 4 hours of calls about A.J., Cops who can do sobriety tests over the radio, speculation about everything. If he truly doesn't know what it is, OK. But I hope he doesn't drag his feet if he's not as ignorant as they're trying to come across.

    A.J, you've been going fast your whole life. Don't slow down now. Now more than ever, you need to mash the loud pedal, and get through this as quickly as possible.

  12. Schreib11:59 AM

    I listened to your interview on Sirius XM Speedway with Mr. Higdon, and I must say, it was a phenominal interview; very informative and explanatory. Dave, your ability to provide the facts to us fans, whether through your own knowledge or your extraordinary interview ability, is appreciated and admired. Thanks!

  13. I don't want to be a jerk, but I'm tired of hearing about POOR A.J..He has no one to blame except himself. From the start I have thought this was more serious than people were letting on. Why would NASCAR pull a driver out just hours before a race if the test showed he had drank one too many cups of coffee a week earlier?? Something else is going on, and almost every statement by A. J.'s manager has been a lie. A.J. & NASCAR have known the EXACT substance since the day they pulled him from the car!!!!

  14. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Instead of getting right from day one, AJ has lost nearly a month. Makes me wonder what is truth and what is fiction coming from his camp.

  15. Anonymous8:42 AM

    It is interesting to see people dance around the issue because AJ was a “NICE GUY” to people. The other guy who used to drive the 22 has been vilified for having treating people negatively, being mean to reporters with WORDS, and being a horse’s fanny. In the interest of safety I’d rather have a guy who was a horse’s fanny driving next to me at 200 mph than a guy who was taking a banned substance that could have caused him to lose control of the 22 at that speed. We now know for a fact that AJ drove at least 1 race with that banned substance in his system.

    BTW, it should be noted as it was pointed out in your article that “It was characterized as just over the threshold,” said Higdon, “but that’s just not the case. It was over the threshold by a significant amount.”
    Everyone seems to make the assumption that the “threshold” allows someone to have the banned substance in their system is some amount over ZERO. If the “threshold” of a substance is ZERO then any amount over that is SIGNIFICANT. NASCAR has not relayed what the threshold was for the substance in question. Making an assumption one way or another on the allowed amount is not logical.

    Just like if you or I are caught with substances within our system when we “drive under the influence” we have to pay a price and AJ needs to take his lumps. I just wish that people would stop dancing around the issue. Facts are facts.

  16. Anonymous12:28 PM

    Dave great article as always. I too listened to AJ'd mananger and what she had say. In her defense this is as big as bomb to her as it is to us fans. Seems to me by the comments that AJ is guilty as charged and "needs to man up". My opinion is if he says he didn't knowly take it and some of the most respected drivers in the garage(J Gordon for one) say AJ is not a driver they would think would do that kind of thing. But race fans lets not forget, Ryan Braun, a Professional Baseball Player, his positive test was found to be wrong so I say, give AJ time to have his non-govt regulated non/FDA regulated suppliments-vitimans checked out and keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Travis from Tulsa