CONCORD, N.C. — It’s been a year and a half since the World Racing Group announced a sweeping new substance-abuse policy, which for the first time included random drug testing for competitors.

The program, which is administered by Drug Free Sport, requires drivers to participate in random testing for substances of abuse that could impede driving ability. That includes both legal and illegal drugs as well as alcohol.

The World Racing Group owns and operates some of the most prominent dirt-track racing series in the country, including the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series, Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing, among others.

Tom Deery, the World Racing Group’s president and chief operating officer, said the program wouldn’t be possible without the partnership with Drug Free Sport

“We are very pleased with the way that we did it,” Deery said. “We started out partnering with Drug Free Sport as our contractor and as our advisor. That has really been, above all, the piece that has really made this work well and successful. It really is a case where you’re bringing in a partner who knows what they’re doing and understands the circumstances and then deals with it within that environment. They’ve been great to work with. Obviously, their credentials speak for themselves.”

Drug Free Sport has a long history working with sports organizations, including Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Ass’n and hundreds of colleges around the United States.

Since the implementation of the program with Drug Free Sport prior to the 2017 season, one driver has been suspended for failing a drug test, while two others have been penalized for failing to submit samples for testing.

“We’re dealing with professional athletes who have a certain responsibility to themselves as well as their fellow participants as well as their fans,” Deery said. “I think it was probably our participants that pushed us to the go-button (to implement the policy). Not only with their endorsement, with their buy-in, with their ‘this is the right thing to do.’ It really makes the application of this type of process really easy.

“No one is going to stand up and say I’m against drug testing,” Deery said. “I think in general it has been very well accepted.”

There are drivers who take prescription drugs for a variety of ailments and Drug Free Sport works with those drivers so they understand how those drugs will affect them when they’re behind the wheel of a race car.

“Their MRO, which is their Medical Resource Officer, helps manage whenever someone shows up with a question,” Deery said. “He is an unbelievable talent. He will call the participant, he will call the participant’s doctor, he will examine what he’s taking and also, as part of what he does, will help the athlete know how to manage his prescription when he’s in these circumstances.

“That’s been one of the hidden benefits that none of us ever even thought would be part of this, the counseling side of it. Whenever we have somebody that shows up that requires a second discussion or a discussion with the MRO it’s really been very beneficial to the athlete as well as us to have that kind of resource. That’s another reason why I’m so high on DFS.”

Recently there was a bit of drama related to the World Racing Group’s drug-testing policy. It took place during the DIRTcar-sanctioned Dirt Late Model Dream June 7-9 at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway and involved one of dirt-track racing’s biggest stars.

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