Flat track sensation Dalton Gauthier won the three opening rounds of the 2017 American Flat Track Singles championship, but has been stripped of the most recent win, at the Charlotte Half-Mile, and suspended after being caught breaking substance rules, by what we assume, was a drug-testing procedure.
American flat track said this in their press release, 'On April 1, 2017, Gauthier was found to have violated Section B (AMA Pro Racing substance abuse policy) of the 2017 American Flat Track rule book. Gauthier’s AMA Pro Racing competition license will remain suspended indefinitely, pending successful completion of the Road to Recovery Program as outlined in the 2017 American Flat Track rule book.'
Substance abuse covers 19 pages of the 111 page 2017 AFT rule book, nearly 20% of it. The Road To Recovery section states participants 'who violate this [drug] Policy, are required to be evaluated and tested before reinstatement to AMA Pro Racing can be considered.' It continues, the Programme Administrator, the person the AFT has put in charge of testing, 'will provide for an evaluation with an appropriate substance abuse professional for the purpose of advising on the creation of a the [sic] road to Recovery Plan, which may include substance abuse counseling, treatment for rehabilitation.'
The substance hasn't been confirmed, but this is a huge blow to Gauthier and not good for AFT either. We hope it's just a little bit of marijuana, that is legal in many US states for over 21s to buy and not even claim it's for medicinal use, but it is prohibited by AFT. It doesn't change the outcome for Gauthier, but it will reflect on the future better than other substances.
The AFT Singles class had to deal with far more serious news when it was announced that 21-year-old contender Jamison Minor died as a result of injuries after a crash at the Charlotte Half-Mile. an eyewitness told us the rider was hit by another bike after crashing out. This was in only the third race after two other riders, Charlotte Kainz and Kyle McGrane, died as a result of accidents at the Santa Rosa Mile GNC race in September 2016.
It's difficult to know how to make flat track safer. Reducing the number of bikes on the track at any one time might help, but would ruin the spectacle, which is a strange thing to write when people's lives are at risk. Air fences are used in the corners. Track prep was blamed, by onlookers and other racers, at Santa Rosa, but not Charlotte. If anyone can point us to the published findings of the report AFT promised after the Santa Rosa fatalities, we'd like to read it to see what has been suggested. If it has been published, it passed us by.