This is story has been updated, but is still developing
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.