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Friday, April 11, 2008

Driver Admits to Heroin Use Before Races

Aaron Fike's admission to heroin use before races signals the need for mandatory drug testing in racing. Racing has inherent danger without adding drug abuse to the equation.

Professional sports have battled drug use for many years. Lately, the emphasis has been placed on the need to educate people on the dangers of performance enhancing drugs. Almost every ESPN “Sportscenter” telecast tells of another athlete that faces indictment or accusations of performance enhancing drug use.

This week brought news of an athlete’s drug use in a sport that is omitted from steroid investigations. Aaron Fike’s admission to heroin use before races implores the need for drug testing in motorsport. Until recently, racing has often been forced to react to situations. Some of the current safety measures in NASCAR can be traced to reactions from Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s fatal accident. Head and neck restraints (HANS device) and the steel and foam energy reduction walls (SAFER barriers) were developed in the wake of life threatening and fatal racing accidents.

When drug use in sports comes up in conversation, most people think of football players and other sports that rely on strength and speed. Performance enhancing drug use does not lead to increased results in auto racing. A competitive chess player would have better uses for steroids than a racecar driver.

Several season’s ago Tomas Enge was suspended for a positive drug test. NASCAR has essentially banned Shane Hmiel for substance abuse. However, there is no comprehensive drug testing procedure in NASCAR. What is even more frightening than the dangers of heroin use on Fike is the possibility of death for the other drivers. NASCAR is very lucky that there were no injuries or deaths as a result of his heroin abuse. I sincerely hope that Aaron Fike gets the help that he needs and racing puts in measures to prevent this from happening again.

2007 photo of Aaron Fike at Kentucky Speedway courtesy of CIA Stock Photography

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