The Kurt Busch alleged domestic assault investigation returned to the news, if it ever even left, this past week as a result of a hearing in Family Court in Delaware pertaining to ex-girlfriend and alleged victim Patricia Driscoll’s request for a no-contact order against Busch.
The criminal investigation of Busch is still ungoing and the no-contact order hearing is separate from that investigation. Still, that hearing has returned to the forefront an alleged incident in which Driscoll claims Busch slammed her head against the bedroom wall of his motorhome at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in September.
The hearing is also ongoing but is under a hiatus of sorts. After two days of testimony, including testimonies from both Busch and Driscoll, the hearing will not resume until mid-January. You can read details from the first two days of testimony, here.
The hearing has revived the debate regarding what NASCAR should do in cases of domestic abuse, particularly domestic abuse allegations.
One side, seemingly led by US Representative Jackie Speier of California, holds the belief that a professional athlete should be suspended by the sanctioning body of athlete’s sport when allegations arise and that suspension should last until the investigation is complete. Then, the athlete should be reinstated if no charges are filed, or after trial if a case goes to trial and the athlete is found not guily.
The other side argues that the sanctioning body should keep “hands off” until an investigation or trial is completed. Then, if the athlete is found guily, he/she should then be suspended. The one exception to waiting for investigation/trial completion in this arguement is incidents in which there is significant evidence, as in the case of NFL player Ray Rice.
A post I made on this site awhile back stated my stance that aligns with the second camp I’ve mentioned, here. I’m not for suspending a driver solely on allegation. What if a bitter ex-girlfriend wants to get revenge by soiling said driver’s image and damaging his career? That’s what Busch’s camp claims Driscoll is doing. I’m not saying I believe Busch, or that I believe Driscoll, for that matter. I don’t know who to believe at this point, so I’m waiting for the investigation to play out.
Of course, sponsorship also plays a role, or at least it usually would. Even if NASCAR doesn’t suspend a driver at the onset of an allegation, sponsors may dump said driver, and I understand that. A sponsor has to protect its image, and that would probably require distancing itself from a driver being investigated for a crime like domestic abuse. If a sponsor pulls its funds from a race team, a driver may end up losing his/her ride anyway because of a, lack of sponsorship.
Fortunately for Busch, that situation doesn’t apply, as Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas is, essentially, Busch’s sponsor, so as long as the team stands by Busch, existing funding remains.
But as far as the sanctioning body, in this case NASCAR goes, I don’t think suspending a driver, or a competitior in any other capacity, should be denied his/her livelihood — and that’s what driving a race car is for a NASCAR driver — merely because someone accused him/her of something. I think innocent until proven guilty should be the rule of thumb, here.
What do you think? Take an online poll, here.
– PHOTO COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES FOR NASCAR
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