While the specter of a failed drug test still looms large for James Stewart, his immediate future came a bit more into focus today when MX Sports Pro Racing, organizers of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, issued a statement confirming that he is “free to compete without restrictions” at this weekend’s race in Tennessee and until further notice.
One of the most popular riders in the history of motocross, Stewart came under heavy fire last week when it was revealed that he tested positive for a banned substance more than two months ago after the Seattle round of the AMA Supercross series. Just a few days prior to the news, Stewart had his most dominant Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship race in years, sweeping both of the day’s motos.
The banned substance was confirmed to be a type of amphetamine, which Stewart claims was legitimately prescribed to him by a doctor to treat a long-term medical condition.
As a result of the failed test, Stewart has been provisionally suspended by the FIM – one of the sanctioning bodies of the AMA Supercross series. The resulting controversy around Stewart’s future stems from the fact that the Supercross season ended more than a month ago, and all of the riders are now racing the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship – an entirely separate series governed by completely different organizations which have no affiliation with the FIM or the World Anti-Doping Agency.
MX Sports Pro Racing released the following statement today:
The provisional suspension of James Stewart by the FIM as a result of an alleged anti-doping violation on April 12, 2014, does not at this time involve MX Sports Pro Racing or the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. At this stage in the results management process, the decision to compete at a National level remains with the athlete, FIM and WADA, as MX Sports Pro Racing is not a Signatory to the WADA Code and does not have the authority to impose a provisional suspension. Our sanctioning body, AMA Pro Racing, has indicated that it will not restrict Stewart from competing in the upcoming Tennessee National and will reevaluate its position pending the final decision of the FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI). If this position changes we will be notified accordingly. Until then, Mr. Stewart is free to compete without restriction.
In other words, because the infraction occurred while Stewart was racing a different series, the organizers of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship – which does have a drug-testing partnership with the USADA – don’t have the option of levying sanctions against him at the moment. It’s certainly an unprecedented case which has already evoked strong emotions.
Sure to be faced with mixed reactions from the fans in attendance on Saturday, Stewart now must try to shift his focus back to the track as the riders prepare to visit Muddy Creek Raceway. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider is currently third in 450 Class points and holds the momentum after his 1-1 sweep at High Point.
Saturday’s race, the Red Bull Tennessee National, will feature live coverage of the day’s final 450 Class moto on NBC at 3PM E.T. All 450 Class and 250 Class motos will stream live online on ProMotocross.com and NBC Sports Live Extra beginning at 1PM E.T.