Features 26 Jun 2014

The US Report

Steve Matthes with the latest from the US, presented by Fox Head Australia.

The news that a rider tested positive for a performance enhancing drug swept through the pits at round four of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships held at High Point Raceway. Honestly, I just chalked it up to the usual gossip. After all, I hadn’t heard it from anyone official so why bother digging into it? I’ve heard this song and dance before, but I knew there was some testing by USADA (United States Anti-Drug Administration) at the previous round at Lakewood, Colorado.

A phone call on Monday confirmed this wasn’t the usual rumour. A rider had tested positive, but not from Lakewood. It was from Seattle supercross two months earlier. The Monster Energy Supercross series does not use USADA for testing, but in accordance with its pact with the FIM, it uses WADA (World Anti-Drug Administration).

We’ve never had any rider test positive since 2009 when the supercross folks started testing and in the outdoors, it’s just been activated this year. This was indeed a big deal. The rider in question was announced last Thursday when Yoshimura Suzuki (getting in front of this scandal – good move!) dropped a press release announcing that its rider James Stewart was the positive ‘doper’ and they were confident that the matter would be resolved.

The next day an FIM PR saying that Stewart was ‘provisionally suspended’ for testing positive for an amphetamine and that he has a right for a B sample to be tested.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

So where are we at now? Well, it’s widely believed that Stewart’s amphetamine was the drug Adderall, which is prescribed for attention deficit disorder, or ADD for short. Now depending on what you read or who you talk to, Adderall can be a help to focus and concentrate on the task at hand if you don’t have ADD. If you do have ADD and have been on Adderall for a while, its effects are lessened.

Without knowing Stewart’s medical history it’s hard to say if his Adderall (if it was that) was indeed performance enhancing. Then again, WADA thinks it is and they’re the ultimate judge and jury in this case.

What we do know about all this is that it’s a mess right now. Stewart is not suspended for the motocross series (as of now, pending the results of the Lakewood MX test) which is not governed by WADA or really, the AMA either? Daytona Motorsports Group purchased AMA Pro Racing (different from the AMA) and just kept the name in use. So the AMA in supercross is different from the AMA in motocross… just to keep things more confusing. And I don’t have to tell you that USADA is different from WADA, do I?

But yet, deep down USADA has ties to WADA and the motocross series does hand out an AMA national title to its champions. There are some deep-rooted, back door ties from the people who tested and suspended James Stewart to the people who currently run the motocross series.

As far as Stewart’s side of things, there is a legal prescription for the amphetamine in question and through a mistake from someone in the Stewart camp, WADA did not receive said prescription. There’s no one going on the record from the rider’s side, but my sources inside that camp say this is the real story. But WADA doesn’t do the “oops, I forgot to tell you about this” real well.

Image: Simon Cudby.

Image: Simon Cudby.

For Stewart it’s yet another controversy that the fans who don’t already like him can use to fuel their fire. Stewart himself is coming off a marvelous 1-1 ride at High Point that put him back into the mix of a guy who could win the 450MX title. This is the last thing he needs as he tries to rebound from his slow start to the national motocross series.

What’s going to happen? As I sit here and type this, I have no idea. People involved in the motocross side are saying this is a supercross issue and ‘they’ have to figure it out. And if you don’t think that Feld Motorsports (the promoters of supercross) aren’t sniffing around to see what the sanctions are to one of their top riders, then you’re nuts.

And in the meantime we wait for Stewart to appeal, the B sample to be tested and, wait for it, the Lakewood USADA testing results to be made public. If Stewart has been taking this substance the entire time (legally) then one would think it would also show up in his motocross tests as well.

And if they come back positive? Well, hang on because this thing will get nuttier than it already is.