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Controversy and speculation surrounding dog doping in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race forced race officials to name four-time champion, Dallas Seavey as the musher whose dogs tested positive for the pain reliever, Tramadol. Seavey vehemently denies administering the performance-enhancing drugs to his dogs.
Following the announcement that, for the first time in Iditarod history, several dogs on a single sled dog team tested positive for the opioid, Tramadol, a performance enhancing drug that is banned from use in race dogs, current and former racers demanded that officials name the musher whose dogs tested positive.
After initially refusing, on attorney advice, to publicly release the accused musher’s name, uninvolved mushers demanded the racer’s name be released, claiming that keeping quiet made any of the top 20 finishers that are subjected to mandatory drug testing of their dogs suspects in the scandal.
“Because of the level of unhealthy speculation involved in this matter, the Iditarod Trail Committee has now decided to disclose the name of the musher involved,” the committee said in a statement.
The committee named four-time champion and Iditarod legend, Dallas Seavey, in the scandal.
Born of a long line of Iditarod champions, Dallas Seavey became the youngest musher ever to win the famed sled dog race in 2012. A legend in the sport, Seavey continued his winning streak, taking first place in 2014, 2015, and again in 2016.
Last March, he finished in second place, just behind his father, Mitch Seavey, another Iditarod legend who’s finished in the top 10 for nine consecutive years.
Seavey vehemently denied any and all accusations against him in a video posted to Facebook.
Seavey said he was horrified to receive a call informing him that 4 of his dogs tested positive for high levels of the pain reliever, Tramadol, a drug he says he’s never administered.
Seavey believes the drug was given to his dogs intentionally by someone with malicious intent. Desperate for answers, the man who has devoted his life to his dogs spent the next several months working with race officials to determine how and when the banned drugs were given to his dogs.
He asserts that the Iditarod Trail Committee has a serious security problem, that musher’s bags and food drop locations are unsecured, leaving the door wide open for malicious behavior and sabotage.
Although Seavey was not found guilty of intentional dog doping and was not facing disciplinary action, he has chosen to withdraw from the 2018 Itidarod Trail Sled Dog Race in protest of the committee and their refusal to both be forthcoming in their findings during investigation of the positive drug test and to provide increased security to prevent future incidents from occurring.
Throughout his 10 years in the sport, Seavey has spent thousands of dollars and as many hours advocating for all the race dogs’ safety and security, including helping to establish the very mandatory drug testing that found his dogs had been drugged.
Well-known for taking exceedingly good care of his dogs, fellow racers and supporters of Seavey don’t believe the champion would knowingly drug them. This is a man who runs alongside his sled when going uphill so as to not make the dogs pull him, who puts off celebration and publicity following a race win until after he’s checked on and praised his dogs first.
Although he’s chosen to withdraw from the 2018 race, Seavey may face a 10-year ban from the sport due to a gag order that prevents mushers from publicly speaking out against the race, race officials, or race sponsors.