4-time Iditarod winner speaks about dog doping case

In this March 15, 2016, photo, Dallas Seavey poses with his lead dogs Reef, left, and Tide after finishing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. Seavey won his third straight Iditarod, for his fourth overall title in the last five years. Seavey, who has ties to the Marquette area, denies he administered banned drugs to his dogs in this year’s race and has withdrawn from the 2018 race in protest. The Iditarod Trail Committee on Monday identified Seavey as the musher who had four dogs test positive for a banned opioid pain reliever after finishing the race last March in Nome. (AP file photo)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey denied Monday that he administered banned drugs to his dogs in this year’s race and said he has withdrawn from the 2018 race in protest of the allegation.

“I have never given any banned substance to my dogs,” Seavey said in a video posted to his Facebook page.

He didn’t immediately return calls to The Associated Press after the Iditarod Trail Committee identified him as the musher who had four dogs test positive for a banned opioid pain reliever after finishing the race last March in Nome.

Seavey is a former Northern Michigan University student and wrestler at the U.S. Olympic Education Center.

Seavey said he fully expected the committee to ban him from the race for speaking out. There’s a so-called gag rule preventing 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.

Iditarod officials on Monday identified Seavey as the musher whose dogs tested positive. The Iditarod Trail Committee met in an emergency meeting and decided to release the musher’s identity after initially refusing on a lawyer’s advice.

“Because of the level of unhealthy speculation involved in this matter, ITC has now decided to disclose the name of the musher involved,” the committee said in a statement.

Iditarod spokesman Chas St. George said it’s not his place to say if Seavey will be banned from the race because of his comments. He said the decision would have to be made by the Iditarod Trail Committee board of directors.

Seavey will not face any discipline involving the determination that drugs were given to the dogs.

As a result 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.

Officials say four dogs in Seavey’s team tested positive after the finish of this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome in March. The banned substance was the opioid pain reliever, Tramadol.

Organizers relented after scores of professional mushers demanded that race officials identify the musher.