Dr. Forest Tennant, the NFL's drug adviser, assisted in shortening the career of stock-car driver Tim Richmond by allegedly falsifying drug tests, according to a report Tuesday on WJLA-TV in Washington. WJLA reported that interviews and sealed court documents obtained by the station show how, in 1988, Tennant and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) used alleged false drug test results to ban Richmond from racing.
The investigative report by Roberta Baskin said Richmond, who died of AIDS last August, was targeted by NASCAR.
The report said NASCAR went to Tennant to establish a substance abuse policy with Richmond in mind.
A series of drug tests and falsely reported "positive" results shortly before the 1988 Daytona 500 succeeded in keeping Richmond from driving in what was to have been his last big race, according to the report.
One former associate of Tennant told WJLA that NASCAR suspected Richmond was a drug user and wanted to "do something about this guy." Another former associate told WJLA he analyzed Richmond's drug test and reported it as "negative," but that Tennant insisted that additional tests be done.
According to WJLA, Richmond's first test was negative.
"It was a negative reading," said Bobby Tovar, a former Tennant lab worker.
"At Dr. Tennant's request it was run a second time on Monday," Tovar said.
Tovar said he had no idea why a second test was conducted and added it was not a common practice. He said the second test also was negative.
WJLA said NASCAR eventually agreed to reinstate Richmond, but only if he released his medical records. That would have revealed Richmond had AIDS. He refused and never raced again.
Just before the Super Bowl last month, WJLA charged in a report that the NFL drug testing program was inconsistent and had dubious testing procedures.
Tennant could not be reached for comment, and NASCAR declined to comment on Richmond's drug tests.