September 12, 2008 - Ron Hornaday, No. 33 Camping World Silverado; Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS and co-owner of Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI), Hornaday's race team; and Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President Corporate Communications met...
September 12, 2008 - Ron Hornaday, No. 33 Camping World Silverado; Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS and co-owner of Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI), Hornaday's race team; and Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President Corporate Communications met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to discuss recent media story concerning possible substance abuse:
JIM HUNTER: "Good morning everybody. Well, Ron Hornaday has been in the news the last couple of day and we are here this morning to help clear the air. Ron is, as most of you know, or some of you know, is a pretty candid guy. From NASCAR's perspective, we appreciate Ron's candor as well the openness of his truck owners, Kevin and DeLana Harvick. The Harvicks have been very active when it comes to substance abuse in our sport. We have discussed the substance abuse issue with them very extensively for the past several days.
"Here is what we know: our substance abuse experts have told us the prescription Ron Hornaday used did not enhance performance or impair his judgment. It is our understanding Ron had a very serious health issue which is continuing to be addressed.
"The facts as we know them today are as follows: His health issues go back to 2004, '05 and '06. Ron was sick and tried to find out why. In December of '04, he began to lose weight and just wasn't up to par. By the end of the year, some personal friends referred him to a clinic. Following blood tests and consultation, he was given a testosterone cream prescription. By mid-summer or mid-season of 2005, he continued to lose weight. He also had an emergency appendectomy. He still wasn't feeling very good. He had lost more than 20 pounds. He went to another doctor and that doctor gave him a full physical. I will let Ron tell you about that, from top to bottom. He was diagnosed with gastrolitis and treated accordingly. By late February of '06, he still wasn't 100% and had lost 30 pounds. After the California race, Kevin (Harvick) made Ron go see Kevin's physician. Hornaday was diagnosed with hyper-active thyroid and was told he needed to be treated immediately.
"Ultimately, his physician prescribed Synthroid for use in thyroid conditions. I will let Ron pick it up from here.
RON HORNADAY: "A lot of you know me, some of you don't know me, but I am a pretty open person. I think a lot of people have seen me through the years of racing, how much weight I have lost and stuff. I know I was doing the right thing for my health, so, when Kevin told me I was going to his doctor, I got pretty upset. I told them I had just done a full scan, I can't say it can I? Up the wrong side, down my throat and everything. When he came back and said I had gastrolitis, I argued with Kevin and said I have seen doctors and just got the whole thing done.
"At the February Daytona race (2006), I got IV'd before the race. Then we got to the California race and I was really sick down there, had IVs again before the race. I think we had a brake problem and ended up pretty far back.
"We got home, Kevin called me that Monday morning and asked me what I was doing that morning, I said I was coming up to the shop that afternoon. He said he needed me up there now. When I got there, Rick Carelli (KHI general manager and Hornaday's spotter) was waiting for me at the door and said we had an appointment. I kinda told Carelli a couple of foul words and told him that I didn't think that was fair and all that stuff. We finally got over there (Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center) to the doctor, just walking him the door, Kevin had explained to him what my feelings were and what I had been doing and all that stuff, he kinda looked at me and said 'I kinda know already what it is. I can see it in your eyes.' He told me to take my hat off and felt my hair and said I will let you know by this afternoon. He did all the blood work and all that stuff. When he called me about 3:30 or 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, I think he spoke to me and asked if he could release the records to Kevin. He told me it was called Grave's Disease. I didn't know what it was.
"I asked if I could take care of it after the season and he said no, it was a life and death situation right now and that I needed to take care of it now. For four or five days where they check what you eat, you go that morning, that afternoon, that morning, that afternoon for three or four days. They give you a little pill; I don't know what it is called, nuclear something or another, when the nurse brought it in there, she opened up this little vial up and dropped the pill down my throat. I couldn't see my wife; she couldn't come around me for forty-eight hours, the whole deal.
"Now, I have to keep going back to the doctors, for two years, you have to go back every three months. Now I am every six months, I have to see the doctor, take blood work, then they prescribe the Synthroid. Sometimes you guys see me fat, sometimes you see me skinny. They are measuring how much my body does.
"I felt like I was chasing, I don't know how to say it."
KEVIN HARVICK: "Chasing ghosts. From a friend stand point, when you see Ron's health start to deteriorate. It is not about driving. This whole situation is not driving; this is about somebody's personal health. Ron went to the extent of trying to make his life better, trying to make his health better. When he went to the extremes of being mis-diagnosed twice, after the California race, I pretty much told him, that is it. You are done until you figure out what is wrong.
"From an owner's standpoint, maybe that is not what I should have done or how I should have done it. But from a friend's standpoint, that is how I did it."
RON HORNADAY: "I don't know if anyone has seen the championship speech I gave, I thanked Kevin and DeLana not only for winning the championship but helping me with my life. That is kinda what I meant. I could have kept going down the same path thinking it was gastrolitis and keep taking the little pills the doctor was giving me for gas or whatever it was, I probably wouldn't be here. So, Kevin and DeLana, I owe everything to for making that phone call to set it up with their doctor."
HOW ARE YOU FEELING NOW RON AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE THIS ALL UNDER CONTROL?
RON HORNADAY: "I when I came here with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in '94 and '95, I weighed 200-205 pounds and that is where I sit right now. My belly might show it. I feel fine. I felt fine before. I started losing weight and I got the shakes real bad. I felt fine then, other than just losing weight and getting the shakes. A little tiredness and stuff like that, but I mean, heck I am 50, I am going to be tired now, so it don't matter."
JIM, IS THERE ANY NASCAR INVOLVEMENT WITH WHAT RON DID OR IS IT OVER AND DONE WITH?
JIM HUNTER: "It is over and done with, he is cleared to race. We don't see where Ron did anything wrong. Our substance policy is based on reasonable suspicion. If you talk to physicians, which I would encourage you to do, on a case-by-case basis, depending upon on what a person's condition is, then their prescriptions with all sorts of substances that are used for treatment, in some cases, those are acceptable. In Ron's case, it was back in '04, '05, it is over."
IS IT CORRECT THAT THE TESTOSTRONE CREAM IN QUESTION WAS NOT ADDED TO THE LIST OF NASCAR SUBSTANCES UNTIL THIS SEASON?
JIM HUNTER: "When you really analyze our policy, and by-the-way, within the next few weeks we are going to announce what we are doing in making some improvements to our policy. It doesn't necessarily make a substance illegal. There are some conditions under which, that is why I used the phrase, talk to physicians, there are certain conditions where testosterone might be prescribed. So I would hesitate to blanket say a substance is totally banned. There are certain substances that are banned. Until we announce our new policy, I don't think I want to just lay a blanket over certain substances."
YOUR COMMENTS ON IF THIS PERSON HAD KNOW YOU AS MOST OF US KNOW YOU WOULD NEVER TAKE SOMETHING OR THINK OF SOMETHING AS PERFORMANCE ENHANCING TO BEGIN WITH:
RON HORNADAY: "I appreciate that. I don't take aspirin. A lot of people in here know that I do drink beer, I love my beer, but I don't drink beer the night before a race and I don't drink on the race track. You guys know I have nothing ever to hide.
"When this gentleman came in to do this story, I thought it was the Southwest Tour days and stuff. He took me out back and wanted to see the beautiful lake and talk to me about it. He brought it up and asked if I have done steroids. I said "Yea". For one, you don't have to take me out back, my family knows what I do, I have nothing to hide, so, am I ashamed? No. I would do it today, but from 2004-2008 there are different laws or whatever you want to call. I saw a nurse, I showed Kevin and DeLana. I wasn't even upset when this guy was talking to me about it. I just had to call Kevin and DeLana and tell them this guy is going to write a story. I have got all the documents that Kevin has in his hand right there and showed NASCAR. I have nothing to hide."
KEVIN HARVICK: "For us, we have all the paperwork, we have all the blood work, everything that he went through to get the cream and the diagnosis of why it was prescribed and why it all came this way for him.
"Bob (Margolis), you can relate to this as good as anybody. We have seen it a lot with DeLana's father. There is just a lot of different health reasons that you would have to use steroids for. Synthroid is actually a form of steroids that is prescribed to him now to take care of thyroid. If he doesn't take that, he pretty much dies.
"It is unfortunate the way that the interview was obtained through our PR department and through the things that had all went down. That part is unfortunate. But, the people who know who he is and what he is about. Sure, there is probably a different route to go about it today. But, he it was right on the verge of the HIPA laws and the things that come with, of really really crossing the line. That, to me, is unfortunate for a lot of you people in this room that have to deal with these types of people on your side."
JIM, IS HGH, I DON'T KNOW IF YOU CAN REALLY TEST FOR IT, IF YOU FIND OUT SOMEONE IS USING IT, DO YOU FEEL LIKE IN CERTAIN INSTANCES.....
JIM HUNTER: "I am not going to speculate."
KEVIN HARVICK: "Hold on here, the HGH side of this, we are not going to drag Lindy (Hornaday) in to this. We have already violated enough personal records. The HGH part of it, we are not dragging Lindy Hornaday in to this as well. We are not going to violate that side of personal records. These are personal health issues and Ron has been kind enough to show NASCAR and show us his personal health issues. On the HGH side, we aren't getting in that."
RON HORNADAY: "I did show them Lindy's too."
KEVIN, DID YOU KNOW WHAT RON WAS TAKING IS NOW ON NASCAR'S LIST?
KEVIN HARVICK: "Until this situation came about, we didn't know that Ron had sought this form of medical attention. Once we knew all the details of it and we knew he health issues and we know we have fixed them since then."
JIM, CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG, BUT EVERY DRIVER IN NASCAR'S TOP-THREE SERIES HAS TO GO THROUGH A PHYSICAL BEFORE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO RACE AT THE START OF THE YEAR AND SHOULD THIS HAVE BEEN CAUGHT AT THAT TIME?
JIM HUNTER: "Going back to then and this is now, I don't know that there is anything in the physical that would have indicated. Like I said, there are certain prescriptions for things that are not in violation of the policy. I don't want to speculate on what might have been. What we hope to do with our new policy is have a much better policy. In that regard, the Harvicks have worked very closely in developing a policy of their own for KHI, as have other team owners. I think this is an individual case where a person's health was the central issue."
RON, YOU WERE SO FORWARD WITH YOUR FAMILY, WERE YOU AS FORWARD WITH NASCAR IN 2005-2005?
RON HORNADAY: "The nurses had seen me; they questioned me at the race track. I told them I had seen doctors and stuff like that. By putting it down, no, I didn't do that because, if you checked me, my levels were so low that probably put me back to standard so I don't know."
KEVIN HARVICK: "He didn't know the diagnosis at the time, it was a moving target."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE FOR US HOW STUBBORN RON WAS WHEN YOU TRIED TO DRAG HIM TO THE DOCTOR?
KEVIN HARVICK: "For me it is different. I just look at it as Ron. I have known Ron, I say 16, he says younger. It all depends upon who you talk to as far as when I started racing late model stuff. Ron was struggling to find out exactly what was wrong with his health and obviously, he had the appendix problem. I had watched him for the first two weeks of the season, lay in the infield care center and take IVs before the race. For me it was a no-brainer. Ron is one of my best friends, for me it was simple. I called Carelli and told him to take him to Wake Forest. He was a little bit stubborn about it with Carelli. I actually wasn't there, but we had a plan to get him to the hospital, so I didn't see that stubbornness, and get it figured out."
RON HORNADAY: "Yea, you hid from me."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING A DRIVER AND THE MINDSET THAT YOU CAN'T BE SICK?
RON HORNADAY: "When I first started driving for Dale (Earnhardt), I couldn't ride a Harley, I couldn't water ski, I couldn't roller skate. With Kevin, I told him, if I go out there and water ski and break my toe, I ain't going to tell ya. I break my leg, I ain't going to tell you either. I want to race. We do stupid things, skate boarding and all that stuff.
KEVIN HARVICK: "I would like to see that. I would really enjoy that."
JIM HUNTER: "I would too. Skate Boarding?"
RON HORNADAY: "It is my office behind that steering wheel. I was back in right after I had my appendix out. You love sitting in that truck; you love racing. I don't care if it is a car or truck, it is fun. I think it is more mental; when I was younger it was more physical. But now it is more mental and having that equipment to drive."
KEVIN HARVICK: "And things have changed since a lot of the things he is talking about and you are talking about, Ray (Dunlap) as far as the way NASCAR goes. The nurses are around every week. They know when you have been in an accident. They knew what things are going on. It is just like the Synthroid for Ron, it is on his physical forms. They know it is a moving target with his dosage and the way it works.
"Back when I broke my sternum in 2005 at Daytona, I raced with it in the Nationwide races and in the Cup races for weeks. I had to have help getting in and out of the car, but they knew there was nothing else they could do; obviously you can't take pain medicine or anything like that. They know all that is going on and especially, not only this situation, but there are a lot of instances in the garage where there is not enough credit for the communication between the teams and the drivers. A lot of times it is a personal issue that you guys never hear about, they know about most of it. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don't, but more times than not, they know what is going on. Our world is public, but sometimes the health issues have to stay private."
DOES THIS REAL-WORLD SITUATION HAVE ANY IMPACT ON THE NEW DRUG POLICY?
JIM HUNTER: "I think any time you say certain words, it raises the level of interest. But I don't think the particular issue, to us; this is a health issue of whether a person is sick or ill and trying to find a way to fix it. One of the things about our new policy, I should say revised policy, is that we have sought and have spoken to just about every car owner, just about every driver so we have gotten a tremendous amount of input from them so that we put a better policy in place for today's world. When we announce that I think it will be."
-credit: gm racing