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Allmendinger Suspended For Failing Drug Test

AJ Allmendinger during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on April 21, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. [1]Ninety minutes before the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR announced that AJ Allmendinger, driver of Penske Racing’s No. 22 Dodge, had been suspended for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy. Following the race at Kentucky Speedway, Allmendinger was selected for a random drug test. His “A” sample tested positive, though it has not been revealed for what he had tested positive.

Allmendinger’s suspension is currently temporary. He has requested that his “B” sample be tested. The sample will take five days to complete. Aegis Sciences Corporation, which performed the first test, will conduct the test on Allmenginder’s second sample. If that sample comes back positive, then his suspension will become indefinite.

Sam Hornish replaced him in the No. 22 for the race at Daytona, and will fill in for Allmendinger at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.

NASCAR issued an official announcement:

Driver AJ Allmendinger has been temporarily suspended from NASCAR competition based upon notification of a positive “A” test NASCAR received from the Medical Review Officer as stated in Section 19-11B (6,7) of the NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy.

Penske Racing issued a statement following the announcement:

 NASCAR notified Penske Racing this afternoon that AJ Allmendinger was administered a drug test earlier this week, and those results tested positive. NASCAR has a strict drug testing program that Penske Racing fully supports. Penske Racing will work with NASCAR through this process and its next steps.

Penske Racing owner Roger Penske called the failed drug test a “disappointment” but indicated that he would reserve judgment until the “B” sample was tested.

He said:

You know it’s a disappointment at this particular time, but we’re going to wait and see what the second test results are before we make any comment or decisions. I don’t think it’s fair to him. I think as you look at sports, things happen like this. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t really want to make a statement pro or con right now. I’m counting on another test being proper for him within 72 hours, and at that point we’ll make a decision.

Allmendinger has remained silent on the issue and no statements have been issued. [See update below] His business manager, Tara Ragan, however did say that they were “shell-shocked” in regards to the test.

Allmendinger is the first big-name driver to fail a random NASCAR drug test since Jeremy Mayfield failed a test [2] that resulted in a long court battle that recently ended [3] between Mayfield and NASCAR. Aegis also conducted that test.

This is not Allmendinger’s first brush with trouble. In 2009, Allmendinger was arrested for driving while intoxicated [4]. He pleaded no contest [5] and received probation and community service. Richard Petty Motorsports, his then-team, also placed him on probation and fined him $10,000. Allmendinger did, however, take full responsibility for the incident.

Update: AJ Allmendinger has issued a statement regarding his failed drug test:

I fully respect NASCAR’s drug usage policy and the reasons they have it. I am hoping this can get resolved as quickly as possible so that I can get back to driving the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge. I am sorry that this has caused such a distraction for my Penske Racing team, our sponsors and fans. Obviously I would never do anything to jeopardize my opportunity here at Penske Racing or to my fellow drivers. I am very conscious about my training and health and would never knowingly take a prohibited drug.

Update 2: Tara Ragan, Allmendinger’s business manager also issued a statement:

In an effort to help our colleagues in the media report on this in a timely and accurate manner, we wanted to provide some additional details regarding AJ’s sample “A” test results. AJ tested positive for a stimulant. He has no idea why the first test was positive, and he has never knowingly taken any prohibited substance. AJ is collecting his medicines and supplements for testing to determine whether an over-the-counter product caused his positive test. AJ and all of us at Walldinger Racing respect NASCAR’s testing program, and he has requested that his “B” sample be tested as part of the process of getting to the bottom of this. We will have the opportunity to review all of the scientific data surrounding the test following the “B” sample test, but our understanding is that AJ’s test was slightly above the threshold.

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