Four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey is denying he administered banned drugs to his dogs in this year’s race, and he has withdrawn from the 2018 race in protest, according to the Associated Press.
“I have never given any banned substance to my dogs,” Seavey said in a video posted to YouTube.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YYo_F3qXbf4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
The Iditarod Trail Committee identified Seavey as the musher who had four dogs test positive for a banned opioid pain reliever—Tramadol, after finishing the race last March in Nome.
Seavey said he expects the committee to ban him from the race for speaking out; because there is a ‘gag rule that prevents mushers from making statements critical of the race or sponsors.
“I have done absolutely nothing wrong,” the 30-year-old Seavey said, adding he wouldn’t be “thrown under the bus” by the race’s governing board.
Because of the positive test findings, the race rule dealing with canine drug use was revised earlier this month to hold mushers liable for any positive tests in future races unless the mushers can prove the results happened because of something outside of their control.
Previously, the rule could be interpreted to require that race officials provide proof that a musher intended to administer the prohibited substance.
Only the first 20 teams to reach Nome are drug tested. Seavey’s dog team was tested six hours after finishing the race, officials said. Race officials have estimated the drug could have been administered 15 hours or less before the drug test.
The Iditarod began testing sled dogs for prohibited substances in 1994. Dogs on all teams are subject to random testing between pre-race examinations and along the race trail. Testing in Nome for top finishing teams, however, is not random but expected.