Seavey cleared of drug tampering in Iditarod

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors has issued a statement that clears former four-time winner and former Northern Michigan University student Dallas Seavey of administering banned drugs to his dogs during the 2017 sled dog race.

The board, which recently convened to resolve the situation that resulted from a positive drug test following the race, announced that after several meetings with Seavey and a review of all relevant information and evidence, the board said it doesn’t believe Seavey had any involvement with, or knowledge of, the events that led to the positive test with his team.

“The ITC concludes that it is not credible that Dallas was involved, and he is found to have committed no wrong doing,” the statement read. “Whatever happened was completely beyond his control.”

ITC Board President Mike Mills said: “We regret the delays in resolving this matter and want to make clear that we do not place blame on Dallas regarding the circumstances surrounding the positive drug test of his four dogs in 2017. On behalf of the ITC, I apologize to Dallas for any negative publicity and damages this situation has caused him.

“The ITC recognizes Dallas as a top competitor and valued ambassador for the sport and looks forward to seeing him participate in future Iditarods.”

According to the Anchorage Daily News, four dogs on Seavey’s team tested positive for tramadol, a substance banned by the race.

Seavey, also a former wrestler at what was then known as the U.S. Olympic Education Center, issued a response.

“I greatly appreciate the Iditarod resolving this issue thoroughly and definitively as well as their acknowledgement of the difficulties this has caused both myself and the greater mushing community,” he said. “The Iditarod board has handled the process that led to the resolution with integrity.

“The Iditarod has taken extraordinary measures in recent months to improve itself as an organization and I am thrilled to see the Iditarod on what I believe to be a very positive trajectory.”

Seavey also thanked the current board members for donating what he called their “considerable talents” to the Iditarod and said he looks forward to seeing the Iditarod prosper under their leadership.

“Since my grandfather’s participation in the inaugural Iditarod, the Seavey family has cumulatively competed in 47 Iditarod races,” Seavey said. “I look forward to many more years of involvement in the ‘Last Great Race.'”

His father Mitch is a three-time Iditarod champion while his grandfather Dan competed in the inaugural race in 1973.

Since the incident, several additional safety precautions have been implemented along the trail, the ITC said. All food drop bags are sealed with tamper-proofed zip ties, and a 24/7 surveillance coverage at the Nome dog lot was added this year as well as at three other checkpoints along the route. The increased security protocols continue to remain a priority for the ITC.

The 1,000-mile Iditarod travels from Anchorage to Nome.

Iditarod XLVII will have its ceremonial start from downtown Anchorage on March 2, with the official restart scheduled for the following day in Willow.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.