LOUDON, N.H. - NASCAR officials will not penalize reigning Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday for the use of a testosterone cream during 2004 and 2005 and consider the incident a "personal medical issue."
In an interview published this week in ESPN The Magazine, Hornaday acknowledged using the cream in 2004 and 2005 when he was suffering various ailments and trying to diagnose a medical problem.
Hornaday was eventually diagnosed last season with Grave's disease, a thyroid disorder that he is now treating with the use of Synthroid, a hormone replacement usually given to patients with thyroid problems.
"Our substance abuse experts have told us the prescription Ron Hornaday used did not enhance his performance or impair his judgment. It is our understanding Ron had a very serious health issue, which is continuing to be addressed," Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications, said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Hornaday was twice misdiagnosed before eventually receiving the diagnosis of Grave's disease in early 2006, after he was instructed to visit another doctor by his Truck series team owner, Kevin Harvick. Hornaday has been in good health since.
"From a friend standpoint, when we saw Ron's health start to deteriorate, it's not about driving, it's about somebody's personal health," Harvick said. "He was misdiagnosed twice. After the California race (in 2007), I told him. 'That's it. You're done until you figure out what’s wrong.'
From an owner's standpoint, maybe that's not how I should have done it. But from a friend's standpoint, that's how I did it."
Testosterone is not specifically banned by NASCAR's current substance abuse policy because there are still legitimate medical uses of the steroid hormone and a blanket ban may not be possible, Hunter said.
Officials are expected to soon announce a revised substance abuse policy that NASCAR chairman Brian France has said would include "more testing." Currently, NASCAR's policy provides for testing when "reasonable suspicion" exists that someone is using a banned substance.
Hornaday credits Harvick and his wife, DeLana, for helping him restore his health.
"I don't know if anyone saw the championship (banquet) speech I gave (last year). I thanked Kevin and DeLana not for helping me win the championship but also helping with my life," Hornaday said.
"I could have continued down the wrong path and may not be here. So Kevin and DeLana, I owe everything to for getting me to the right doctor."