AJ Allmendinger has been suspended from NASCAR for 41 days now, and the questions just keep on coming.
What drug was found in Allmendinger’s system? How much was found, how did it get there, and how? Was it ingested intentionally, or accidentally? Was it a one-time occurrence, or part of a long-term pattern of addiction? Titillating questions, one and all. But not one of them – in my opinion – remotely relevant any longer.
At the risk of bucking the tide of public opinion, I believe it’s time to stop searching for the “truth” behind Allmendinger’s suspension, and begin focusing on what appears to be a sincere effort by the driver to return to the good graces of the sport.
Allmendinger says he inadvertently took a tablet of the prescription drug Adderall, offered by a “friend of a friend” while out on the town. Some accept his explanation at face value, while others question his honesty. Either way, I don’t think it matters any longer.
Whether the former Penske Racing driver swallowed a single, ill-advised tablet of someone else’s ADHD medication, or got caught red-handed with a syringe full of heroin in his neck, it’s over and done now. He’s been busted, suspended by NASCAR and fired from his ride with Penske Racing; one of the elite teams in all of NASCAR. He has weathered a blistering storm of public scrutiny and criticism; some of it inspired by a handful of unfortunate misstatements and half-truths emanating from his own camp.
It’s time to accept the fact that we will never know the whole truth surrounding Allmendinger’s fall from grace. He does know what happened, however, as does NASCAR and its substance abuse testing agency, Aegis Laboratories. At the end of the day, that’s enough, since NASCAR and Aegis – not the media or the public at large – are the ones tasked with ensuring that Allmendinger remains banished from the port until his long-term sobriety and fitness for competition have been re-established, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Allmendinger said recently that he hopes to complete NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program by the end of the month. Others dispute that claim, saying the process cannot possibly be completed in such a short amount of time.
In my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether Allmendinger completes the program on August 31st, September 1st, or a decade from now. All that matters is that he passes every NASCAR substance abuse test administered to him from now until the end of time, proving himself clean and sober – over the long haul – before being cleared to return to the sport.
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