During a turbulent offseason for the Iditarod as the 2018 race looms about two months away, the biggest storyline was that four-time champion and former ASJ cover subject Dallas Seavey raced with some dogs that failed mandatory drug tests in what’s turned to a scandal for the famed dog sled race.
But Seavey has repeatedly denied that he used the banned painkiller tramadol on four of his 2017 Iditarod dogs. But as doubt has been cast, Seavey is seeking answers from the race committee and released a statement yesterday calling out the Iditarod Trail Committee and demanding answers or for some to step down if they can’t prove his guilt. Here’s a portion of that statement:
Renowned musher Dallas Seavey today challenged the governing body of the Iditarod race to prove its allegation of doping or else the responsible individuals for the misrepresentation tender their resignations at a public hearing this month. “As the race’s governing body, the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) is responsible for overseeing the integrity of the Iditarod,” Seavey said. “The ITC’s failure to conduct proper analysis and due diligence prior to making an accusation against me is not only wrong, but unfair to the sport, the mushers, the dogs, and the Alaskan community. I have dedicated my life to this sport. The ITC must either publicly prove its allegation or the responsible individuals should resign.” The ITC asserted Seavey was involved in administering a banned substance to his dogs during the 2017 Iditarod. Yet, in the past 10 months, the ITC has failed to provide any evidence to demonstrate its claim. In November 2017, the four-time Iditarod champion, Seavey made a formal demand for details on the ITC protocol, collection process, and toxicology specifics after race organizers alleged four of his dogs tested positive for Tramadol, a banned substance, in the 2017 competition. He publicly made the request after the ITC’s failure to provide substantiating evidence at the time of its accusation.
Seavey, the 30-year-old who comes from a well-known Alaska mushing family, has repeatedly denied giving tramadol to his dogs. He has speculated that, perhaps, someone sabotaged him. Now he says he doesn’t even have information from the Iditarod that proves the drug test results came from his team.
“They have sent us barcodes from the lab, but there’s nothing that correlates those barcodes to me or my team,” he said in an interview. “So we’re not looking for minutiae in chain of custody, we’re looking for anything that positively identifies me or our team.”
The Iditarod says that it does not blame Seavey for the positive drug tests and that it has cooperated with the musher’s requests.
But Seavey said that the information he wants is proving difficult to obtain. While he has received some information from the Iditarod, he said it’s incomplete.
“We assumed the information had been collected and reviewed by the Iditarod and led to whatever determination they made,” he said. Instead, he said, he has been told his requests were “sent to the lab and they’re going to pull it together.”
In response to Seavey’s statement, the Iditarod Trail Committee — the nonprofit that stages the annual 1,000-mile race — sent a two-paragraph statement through its public relations firm. The Iditarod Trail Committee said “it has been and continues to” respond to Seavey’s requests and has provided information “as quickly as possible.”
Seavey and his dad Mitch have combined to win seven Iditarod titles, including the last six, so this story has sent shockwaves through the sport.