What had been rumored for days among those closest to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was confirmed today by the Iditarod Trail Committee, the musher with doped dogs in Nome at the end of this year’s race was Dallas Seavey of Willow.
A one-time reality TV star, an already four-time Iditaord champ, and the leading up-and-comer of a new generation of Iditarod mushers, the 30-year-old Seavey is the race’s brightest star.
His being connected to doping is the sled-dog racing equivalent of police being called to the home of Tiger Woods after he slammed a car into a tree after a fight with his wife. Seavey quickly had a 17-minute YouTube video up online aggressively proclaiming his innocence and attacking the Iditarod for what he saw as a long list of wrongs.
According to Iditarod, Seavey denied giving the drug to four dogs, and argued it made no sense for him to so because he didn’t think tramadol, an opioid pain killer, would provide a competitive advantage.
Iditarod said it decided not to sanction Seavey because it couldn’t prove that he intended to cheat even if he did give the drug. Craigmedred.news has been attempting to reach Seavey since last week. He has not responded.
Friends say he had been having a splendid summer up until now – inking a big, new sponsor in the form of a tour company doing business in Alaska and buying 100 acres of land near Talkeetna on which to build a new kennel.
Seavey’s father, 58-year-old Mitch Seavey, is the race’s defending champion, the oldest musher to win the Iditarod, and a three-time champ. The Iditarod doping controversy that erupted around “Musher X,” now identified as Dallas, revealed that Mitch had for years been using a supplement that appears to contain an Iditarod prohibited substance.
But the elder’s Seavey’s public relations problems only begin there now.
Mitch led a public effort to direct attention away from Dallas by trying to spin the idea that whatever happened in Nome was due to sabotage.
Posting on the Facebook page of Seavey’s Ididaride Sled Dog Tours last week, the elder Seavey declared it “unlikely” an Iditarod competitor would dope his or her dogs to obtain a competitive advantage in the world’s most prestigious sled dog race and that “it seems more plausible an adversary of that musher or of the race itself was to blame.”
Other Seavey members also circled the wagons. On Tuesday, with multiple sources already telling craigmedred.news that the musher with the doped dogs was either “Dallas” or “someone with the name of a town in Texas,” Danny Seavey – Dallas’s brother and another of Mitch’s sons – texted that “it’s not Mitch or Dallas.”
As it turned out, it was Dallas. The amount of tramadol detected in what was first reported to be “several” of his dogs, but now turns out to be four, was significant.
An early Monday press release from the ITC put the level at 254 ng/ml, or O.254 milligrams per liter. Such a dose set off immediate alarm bells.
In the video, Dallas was defiant and aggressive in defending himself while at the same time portraying himself as a victim. He sometimes referred to notes on a computer screen only the edge of which is visible in the video.
“I’ve done everything I possibly can to try to get the information out there,” he said. “I have done absolutely nothing wrong. I have spent the last 10 years becoming the best musher I possibly can. I have done nothing wrong. I have never knowingly broken any race rules. I have never given any banned substance to my dogs.”
He claimed to have been thrown “under the bus” by the Iditarod and expressed the view he was sure to be tossed out of the race for violating the Iditarod “gag rule” by shooting the video.
Sadly, the video had echoes of disgraced Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong with Seavey proclaiming the Iditarod corrupt, suggesting people were out to get him, and arguing the issue wasn’t about him but about protecting other mushers and reforming the Iditarod.
He then repeated the claim that “I believe this was given to my dogs maliciously. I believe that is one of the options. That’s the most likely option.”
The motive for this sabotage?
“They don’t like me. I’ve had run ins with the board ever…or with the board of directors…ever since they legalized two-way communication. This became a big issue. I spearheaded petition that collected more mushers signatures on one issue than we have had in my memorty of the sport. We united against the board. The board did not like this.”
Here is the Iditarod’s press release in its entirety:
WASILLA, ALASKA – On Oct. 9, 2017, the Iditarod Trail Committee issued a press release
announcing the revision of Rule 39 pertaining to canine drug use.
As it explained in the press release, the revised rule was adopted as an outcome of an incident in which four dogs in a musher’s team in the 2017 race tested positive for a prohibited substance.
After investigating the incident, including extensive discussions with race officials, the chief race veterinarian and the musher involved, and in consultation with legal counsel, the ITC Board of Directors determined that the ITC would likely not be able to prove intent.
Given the manner in which the previous rule was written, it could have been interpreted to require the ITC to prove intent by a musher to achieve a competitive advantage. Because of the sensitivity of matter, and the fact that it was not imposing sanctions under the prior version of the rule, the ITC decided that it was appropriate not to disclose the name of the musher involved.
However, because of the level of unhealthy speculation involved in this matter, ITC has now decided to disclose the name of the musher involved. The musher is Dallas Seavey, the drug involved was Tramadol (a pain reliever), and the tests were conducted in Nome after Seavey’s completion of the race.
The material facts which Seavey presented to the ITC during its investigation included, but were not limited to: statements denying that he had administered that drug to any of his dogs; that it would have been irrational for him to do so at that stage of the race because he knew he would be subjected to mandatory testing in Nome as well as a
panel of voluntary tests he had agreed to participate in relating the canine recovery rates; and that Tramadol would not, in his opinion, have given him a competitive advantage.
Under those circumstances, the ITC decided that rather than attempting to enforce a
potentially ambiguous rule under uncertain circumstances, that it would be best for all interests involved – including the mushers, sponsors, fans and the general public – for it to rewrite its canine drug test rule to adopt a bright line strict liability standard. ITC anticipates that the new version of Rule 39 will offer certainty to the race and mushers concerning standards and obligations.
All of America is wacked on on drugs, why should our dogs be any different? Besides until they are trained to kneel at the sound of the National Athem, no one outside of Alaska really gives a dog crap!
I just don’t know. As pointed out Tramadol isn’t really a performance drug. One of the side effects is sedation which wouldn’t help a team. It is also a very bitter tasting drug that normally has to be forced fed vs just throwing it in a food dish. Rymadal would be a much better option as it has anti inflammatory properties. Tramadol would also be a harder drug to get as a controlled substance. Rymadol is treated like Pez candy among mushing circles.
What do I think happened? I think a Vet in Nome gave tramadol to the Dogs. The ITC makes the vets buy their own Tram. As it is a controlled substance. A vet carrying it around and seeing some sore dogs. The race is over so why not give a few dogs some meds to help it rest? He/she does and no one thinks anything of it. A few hours later the pee team comes by to collect and – uh oh.
That’s just one theory. Lance Armstrong and the Volkswagen emmision scandals show nothing is impossible and people can put a lot of work into cheating the system. I still don’t really buy the vandal theory.
What we need is a timeline. If a dog was doped upon arrival into White Mountain how much reading of tramadol should the dog show 4 hours after arrival in Nome? Also more info about the drug testing procedure. I believe last time I was in nome the randomly selected 6 dogs from my team. Are the testing all dogs now? Where else are they testing? What are they testing for? And how? Saying tramadol seems pretty specific instead of just saying a synthetic opioid?
Hopefully the ITC changes for the better after everything calms down.
we need a timeline. i couldn’t agree more.
ITC has been very specific about the tramadol, and the amount of tramadol in the sample. they have not been specific about the metabolites.
so we need a toxicologist to help sort this, too.
I would not say Tramadol or Ultram causes “sedation” by any means…this link below states in one trial only 8-25% of the people ever reported drowsiness. It also states most users do not feel tired with occasional use. So, with the fact that the dogs are forced to run 1,000 miles in 8 days, I think the Tramadol was probably not the factor causing the drowsiness on the dogs when they arrived in Nome….the drug was obviously an “Enhancer”
“In other words, the longer you take Ultram, and the higher the doses of Ultram ER, the more likely it may be that you experience somnolence (drowsiness). However, the frequency of events such as sleepiness depends upon several factors including clinical setting, your level of opioid tolerance, and a host of factors specific to you as an individual.”
You refer to the “drowsiness on the dogs when they arrived in Nome.” Where is this coming from, Steve??
Curious about timelines: He checks in, has bloodwork and other preplanned exams done for research,dogs are fed and bedded down, the urine tests are taken which can be time consuming waiting for at least 4 dogs to pee, with a handler present, all in 6 hours. Realistically how long were they alone to allow for sabotage?
From my understanding of what Dallas said, both the bloodwork and urine tests were scheduled for 6 hours after finishing, to enable the dogs to get some decent rest after the race. Feeding and bedding down takes little time and the urine tests would not have been time consuming (whatever you mean by that).
I watched most of Dallas’s video. My take away: the soul of the Iditarod died a long time ago. It was the real thing back in the days of Swenson and Peters. Then Bucher came along with her obsession and bitching about everything. And from there the Iditarod started its decay. Now the Iditarod is a dysfunctional joke managed by clueless idiots.
I love what is, or wa the true spirit of the race. It’s hard to get behind it now. It, like most things, has become commercialized and in turn bastardized.
Is it possible he had the drug waiting in Nome to give to the dogs after the race was over and the drug testing had been completed and that someone “accidentally” gave it to the dogs too soon?
Not surprised at all, to me dallas’s moral compass showed when he crossed the finish line without a mandatory item, his checkpoint information, the 3rd place finisher handed it to Dallas after Dallas crossed the finish line. If your going to stick to the rules, Dallas should technically been 3rd & he should have owned up to it. Just that alone shows me his lack of integrity & playing by the rules
Science needs to come in to play here. With that doseage, does it seem more or less likely, the drug was administered in Nome…..or could it still be White Mountain? I suppose it hinges on the amount of original dose.
you’ve nailed the important question. i’m working on it.
The pharmacology of Tramadol is published in encyclopedic quantities. Based on some of that, Tramadol would in fact be a choice drug to use in this scenario. Admin prior to WM, it will ingest fairly rapidly, helping dogs to rest and alleviate pain, the effect would also have a “feel good” factor for those dogs when they subsequently moved. The drug is also quite quickly passed through the system, certainly in well hydrated and fast metabolizing dogs and in theory, should be well through the system long before Nome and any drug test. A slow metabolizing dog might still have a residue however if the initial dosage was high enough. Looking at the numbers released, the initial dose in this scenario would have to be quite high.
Also think its highly unlikely that a Veterinarian would simply administer Tramadol in the manner suggested and without proper notification and record.
Whatever the circumstance or whomever is guilty of what, the sad sorry fact is that Iditarod, its participants and our sport in general, has been tarnished with a filthy brush that will take significant efforts to cleanse. In recent years, our sport has been under steady threat from the constant erosion of the core ethical values that attract the vast majority to it in the first place. Perhaps its time to collectively embark on yet another round of finger pointing & blame. Oprah confessions are boring anyway!
I don’t find the “sensitivity of the matter” justification for withholding this information. Just my opinion.