by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
Last night, a report came out that is very disturbing to the NASCAR community. The driver of the number 1 Toyota in the Craftsman Truck Series was arrested and charged with felony drug possession as well as misdemeanor possession of drug abuse instruments according to NASCAR.com.
The thing that really caught my eye about this story is just that. How many times do you hear about NASCAR drivers abusing drugs, alcohol, anything really? The answer is very infrequently when compared to other major league professional athletes. The reason that I bring this up is that these charges are startling, startling if you read them back to yourself. I said felony. The use of pot is more or less a misdemeanor offense unless you have some exorbitant amount that you are carrying around with you and dealing. The reason that Aaron Fike was arrested with a felony charge is because he was in possession of heroin. That is one serious drug. Not only is it addictive, but it is a drug that can do some serious damage psychologically as well as physically to the user. Fike’s fiance was also arrested under the same suspicions as she was in the vehicle with him.
The incident occurred at an amusement park in Ohio when a security officer attempted to approach the vehicle that Fike and his fiance were occupying. Fike attempted to drive away but clipped the officer with his side view mirror in the process. Needless to say, the officer found some very dangerous items in his vehicle which subsequently cost him his freedom.
According to NASCAR, there is a zero tolerance policy across the board for all series. Anyone in possession of drugs, anyone who fails a drug test, or anyone who refuses to take a drug test is indefinitely suspended and removed from the premises at whatever track they are currently on. Needless to say, Fike will not be returning to the NASCAR garage anytime soon, if at all.
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The odd thing about NASCAR’s policy is that although it is strict when enforced, there are very few records of drivers ever being tested. There is always the threat of a random drug test hanging over a driver’s head, but few drivers ever see this policy firsthand. Kevin Harvick, for example, has been in the NASCAR series for over a decade, competing in all three series and has not once seen a random drug test.
Perhaps the problem is that the image portrayed by NASCAR as squeaky clean drivers in terms of their character and moral upbringing is hindering their true perception of the drivers and what they are capable of. I mean, seriously, they are all still human and still capable of making poor choices. Simply because we do not hear about it or do not know about it does not mean that drug use does not occur. It seems as though NASCAR officials have lived by the “out of sight, out of mind” mantra for too long. Drivers like Harvick and Jeff Gordon are all in support of more rigorous drug testing, both scheduled and random, to maintain the image that NASCAR has tried for years to portray. After all, NASCAR is the most watched spectator sport in America and has MANY young viewers who emulate these drivers and want to grow up and be them.
Overall, I think that it’s important to understand the necessity of certain procedures these days. While there are rules and consequences regarding drug use in NASCAR, Fike is neither the first nor the last to use drugs. If you know that drivers have gone a decade without a drug test, what’s the incentive to stop the habit? I thought it would be the privilege of driving in such a prestigious league, but perhaps that isn’t good enough for everyone. Drug testing should be used and enforced. As sad as it might be, I think that it’s an important tool to maintain the integrity of such a great sport.