Denny Hamlin says he was joking when he quipped that 70 percent of drivers in NASCAR use Adderall.
The topic of Adderall use — which got AJ Allmendinger suspended in 2012 — came up when Hamlin appeared on the Pardon My Take podcast. The podcast, hosted by personalities from Barstool Sports, is crude, irreverent and rarely serious. And it’s extremely popular.
After previously remarking that NASCAR drivers get drug tested quite frequently, Hamlin was asked if drivers take Adderall, a drug that helps people focus and is commonly prescribed to people with attention-deficit disorders.
“I would say yes,” he responded.
He was then asked to put a number on how many drivers take Adderall.
“70 percent,” Hamlin said.
The podcast then moved on to another topic. We’re guessing the hosts had no familiarity with the Allmendinger fiasco.
Speaking to two reporters Friday afternoon at Daytona, Hamlin clarified his comments were a joke. From JeffGluck.com:
“I think anyone who has listened to their podcast knows they are funny and joking around and not serious whatsoever,” Hamlin told JeffGluck.com and ESPN.com outside his motorhome at Daytona International Speedway. “They make jokes about a lot of things.
“I literally said we get drug-tested all the time. When they asked me how many (drivers), I said I didn’t know, and they said, ‘Just give us a number,’ and I joked around and gave them a number that has no fact behind it. It’s getting blown up.”
NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell tweeted that Hamlin’s comment was a “ridiculous statement” and the sport said in a statement that anyone who tested positive for Adderall without a prescription would be suspended under the rules of the sport’s substance abuse policy. Allmendinger’s lack of a prescription in 2012 led to his suspension from the sport and the loss of his ride with Team Penske.
The benefits of using Adderall while behind the wheel are plainly obvious. Increased focus and concentration while flying around a track at high speeds sure seems like a good idea, right? But if a driver has a valid prescription for the drug, what can NASCAR do other than allowing the driver to use it? NASCAR shouldn’t be in the business of attempting to overrule doctors.
Besides, those same benefits of increased concentration apply to athletes in all sports. It’s safe to say there are many athletes in other sports with Adderall prescriptions. We just don’t know how many. And Hamlin’s attempt to put a jestful number on the number of total users in NASCAR clearly backfired thanks to the lack of real-time context and Allmendinger’s prior suspension.
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