With Dallas Seavey of Willow, the four-time champion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, now pushing to overthrow the board of the non-profit organization that runs Alaska’s Last Great Race, one has to ask how what started with an effort to protect the 30-year-old star of the race from doping allegations ended up here.
But to get to the end, you have to start at a beginning with the few essential facts on which Seavey and Iditarod agree:
Seavey’s dogs were doped with tramadol, a synthetic opioid and pain-killer. Six months passed from the end of the race until October 9 during which intermittent discussions took place between Seavey and the Iditarod to try to determine how the dogs might have ingested tramadol. It was never wholly determined exactly where or when the drugs were administered or by whom.
The agreement pretty much ends there.
Seavey says he didn’t do it. The Iditarod has stopped short of saying he did, but does say he is responsible for his team, and the race admits to doubts it could meet the legal standard of proving Seavey willfully doped the dogs.
Proving doping beyond a reasonable doubt – the high level of proof required in a U.S. court of law – is almost impossible unless video exists of the doper filling a syringe and injecting it into dogs, and prosecutors have the container from which the dope was taken and the syringe to prove both contained the dope.
This is why every sport in the world enforces doping with a “strict liability rule.” The International Federation for Sleddog Sports, which is associated with the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) has incorporated this rule.
“As consistently confirmed by the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport), the strict liability rule for the finding of a prohibited substance in an athlete’s specimen, with a possibility that sanctions may be modified based on specified criteria, provides a reasonable balance between effective anti-doping enforcement for the benefit of all clean athletes and fairness in the exceptional circumstance where a prohibited substance entered an athlete’s system through no fault or negligence on the athlete’s part,” WADA says.
The Iditarod has avoided IFSS affiliation. The Anchorage Fur Rendezvous Open World Championships sled-dog Race – a three-stage, sprint race around the streets of the state’s largest city and once the biggest event in Alaska sled dog racing – is IFSS affiliated.
The IFSS is very clear on its policy as to drugs found in dogs:
“It is each athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his or her dog’s body. Athletes are responsible for any prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers found to be present in their dog’s samples. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing use on the athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an anti-doping rule violation….”
After the Seavey doping positive and months and months of on-and-off discussions with Seavey, the Iditarod decided to resolve any problems with doping debates going forward by rewriting its doping rule to mimic that of the IFSS.
And so was laid the groundwork for World War Seavey, though no one knew it at the time.
A widening gulf
Seavey and the Iditarod disagree on almost everything that came from the moment the new rule was proposed on Oct. 9 to now.
Seavey version: “Because they couldn’t prove it, they just decided not to go any deeper. which means that they’re going to imply that I’m guilty. They released this information along with the rule change that implied that I was guilty but that they couldn’t make it stick in a legal court.”
Iditarod version: “The revised rule has been put in place because several dogs in a single musher’s team in the 2017 race tested positive for a prohibited substance. In consultation with legal counsel, the Board of Directors determined that the ITC would likely not be able to prove intent.” The information released did not mention Seavey, and Iditarod officials and board members contacted by craigmedred.news and other journalists refused to say which musher was involved.
The failure to name names, or the drug, or where and when the incident happened on the trail caused an uproar. Iditarod mushers and fans all demanded to know more, and on Oct. 17, the Iditarod issued a second press statement giving them some of what they wanted.
Iditarod version: “The following is additional information related to the Iditarod Trail Committee press release distributed Oct. 9, regarding the update to Rule 39 resulting from several dogs from a single musher’s team testing positive for a prohibited drug. The prohibited drug found in the dogs was tramadol.
“Based on the test results, it was estimated that the drug could have been administered
somewhere between fifteen hours prior to, and up until the time the team was tested in Nome. Urine samples were collected from the team for testing six hours after finishing the race.” Again the musher was not named.
Seavey version: “Then they released more information following that (Oct. 9 release) that implied strongly that they believed I was guilty, but weren’t going to do anything about it.”
The day after that press release, Wade Marrs – a Seavey friend and neighbor in Willow and the reigning president of the Iditarod Official Finishers Club – delivered a seven paragraph statement to the Alaska Dispatch News, the states largest news organization, from a mysterious “Musher X,” the man at the center of the controversy.
Written strangely in the third person, it questioned the drug testing protocols and made this claim:
“Accordingly, Musher X was determined unlikely to have administered a drug to their own dogs. Musher X was led to believe that the Head Veterinarian and Race Marshall suspected either an accident or possibly foul play in the Nome dog lot or food bags. They assured Musher X the issue was over, no further action was necessary, and that measures were being taken to increase security of the food drops, checkpoints, and the Nome dog yard.”
Race spokesman Chas St. George refused to comment on the Musher X statement, dodging with the claim he hadn’t read it. The response was in keeping with the information-containment policy Iditarod had been operating under since the Oct. 9 announcement about a “rule change.”
But the accusations against Race Marshal Mark Nordman and Head Vet Stu Nelson finally stirred an Iditarod reaction.
On Oct. 22, the Iditarod sent a statement to the Official Finishers Club outlining the drug-control testing procedures and contesting Musher X’s claim.
Iditarod version: “ITC never made a determination that it was unlikely Musher X (later identified as Seavey) administered the drug in question. ITC decided, as it stated in its press release dated October 9, 2017, that Rule 39 as previously written could have been interpreted to require the ITC to have proof of intent. The ITC decided that it was not internally satisfied that it could prove intent in this case and modified Rule 39 instead to adopt a strict liability standard. Based upon ITC’s research, that is virtually the universal standard in other animal sporting events.”
The statement also offered an explanation for a 6-hour delay in drug testing after the race finish – a delay that had become the subject of much debate:
“Prior to the 2017 Race, Musher X requested a delay in the collection of the urine
samples by the ITC drug testing team after the finish of the Race, explaining that there
were other tests that were already ordered by Musher X and that Musher X wanted to
make sure the dogs were sufficiently rested for both the urine draw and the additional
The reference to blood tests sent some other mushers and John Schandelmeier, a former winner of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and a columnist for the Dispatch News, scrambling.
“Who was scheduled to take another blood draw at the end of the race, this test ordered in Dec.?” he emailed the next day. “So which of the top 20 had their initial blood work done that far back?
“I’m having trouble finding who volunteered for those Dec. tests. ITC won’t tell me.”
Craigmedred.news couldn’t get an answer to that question either. It was among many questions the Iditarod was refusing to answer.
Seavey version: “A couple days ago they (Iditarod) sent a letter to IOFC (Finishers Club), pretty much denying everything I said, across the board, saying this is all lies, don’t believe a word. But if you go back to what I think is the real cause of this: the purpose of leaking my name, which the letter that they did to the IOFC directly tied me to it. While over here they are saying, we’re not going to release the name, on the other hand they’re putting out enough information. They’re putting it out there, and the purpose in my opinion was to discredit me within the mushers to make me be quiet. Right? They don’t want anymore petitions coming from me. They don’t want any more arguments to the board coming from me.”
Reporters might eventually have discovered Seavey’s name, but while they were digging, the Finishers Club demanded Iditarod release the name of the musher involved. Among those signing on in support of the demand was Seavey’s father, Mitch, the defending Iditarod champion and the first to publicly suggest the doping might have been caused by “sabotage,” a theme later picked up by his son Dallas.
On Oct. 23, Iditarod finally gave up the name.
Iditarod version: “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.”
Those words had barely entered the tubes before Dallas was online in a youtube video, which had clearly been shot and then edited, proclaiming his innocence, attacking his accusers and suggesting sabotage either on the part of his competitors, animal-rights groups, or possibly even members of the Iditarod family of officials, volunteers andvets.
Since then, a lot of discussion has focused on possible saboteurs, the questionable effectiveness of tramadol as an Iditarod doping drug, and vague issues of fairness that go far beyond a doping case involving someone who has suffered no harm other than the Iditarod saying his dogs were doped.
Dallas was not disqualified from the race. Dallas did not lose his $59,357 prize for finishing second. Dallas was not banned from future races. Dallas was not even penalized for the suggesting other mushers might have doped his dogs, although the Iditarod’s controversial gag rule prohibits mushers from engaging in “public conduct injurious to and in reckless disregard of the best interests of the race.”
Dallas has publicly called the Iditarod corrupt and tried to start a musher’s revolt against the race.
“Should there be any governing body that is beyond reproached from the governed?”he demanded in an interview with KTUU-TV. “This is not a dictatorship. This should be the group of mushers being heard and represented by their board.
“The board themselves cannot make rules that disallows their mushers, the people they govern, to disapprove of the decisions they make. That is ethically wrong.”
The posturing has served well to distract from what little is and is known about the four doped dogs in Dallas’s team.
What is actually known – beyond the name of the drug, tramadol; the name of the musher, Dallas; and where the drug test was conducted, Nome – remains limited, in large part because of the unwillingness of Iditarod to talk about what Nelson and the drug testing laboratory in Oregon believe to be the what and where.
Seavey has offered some ideas.
Dallas version I: “In Nome, after, after the finish in Nome, um, we talked to another vet that we’ve worked with in the past. And um, and yeah, our crew and that vet were working closely together because they seemed…(pause.)…down. And, um, this was, this was something, that when this whole thing came up, it was like, “Oh, now I see what was going on. They were hit with a heavy sedative.” So we had them on heavy electrolyte. We were trying to get them to bounce back. Dogs that are usually very animated and perky aren’t wanting to get up and eat. Um, something was strange. And it was a short window. We got them on the electrolytes.We got them on all this stuff, and they seemed to bounce back. It’s like, ‘OK, maybe it was just a hard race.’ But I’ve never seem them finish like that, or after the finish be like that. And that was a bit concerning.”
Dallas version II: “”I feel like this was probably an opportunistic thing where somebody was in the Nome dog yard and saw the dogs unattended. Whether that’s anti-mushing or whatever it is I don’t know. But I do know we need to have some security….I do know that after I finished the race, my team, we bedded them down. They were left unattended for 4 or 5 hours prior to the drug test. What happened in that time, I’d love to know. I’d love to see the security footage from the Nome dog yard. Since there isn’t any.”
Iditarod has cast doubt on the Nome scenario.
Iditarod version: “…Possible foul play in the Nome dog lot or food bags…was a hypothesis put forward by Musher X (Dallas Seavey). It was rejected by ITC because it was not supported by identifiable facts but only by supposition and speculation. As we are learning, that type of entertaining ‘what ifs’ can be destructive to individual mushers and the sport we all hold so dear. It should be noted that as the revised Rule 39 states that ITC will take any facts of that type of behavior very seriously and mete out firm and prompt sanctions.”
Seavey has generally stuck to version two of his sabotage story that whatever happened took place in the Nome dog yard after the dogs were left unattended. There were four other teams in the lot for the six hours Dallas was there.
That of his father, race winner Mitch, who had finished about two and a half hours earlier; that of Nicolas Petit of Girdwood, who finished only 4 1/2 minutes behind Seavey and delivered the latter’s vet book so Dallas could officially finish (the vet book is mandatory gear required at the finish line); and Norwegian Joar Liefseth Ulsom, who finished about 3 1/2 hours after Dallas.
No other teams would arrived in the six-hour window between Dallas’s test finish and the test. Both Petit and Ulsom have said they did not dope anyone’s dog. If they are to be believed, there are no competitors who could have drugged Dallas’s team.
But the Iditarod has left open the possibility the doping did not happen in Nome.
Iditarod version: “Based on the test results, it was estimated that the drug could have been administered somewhere between 15 hours prior to and up until the time the team was tested in Nome.”
The 15-hour time opens the door on the possibility the dogs were doped in White Mountain, a friendly village where mushers are required to rest their teams for 8 hours before the final push to Nome. It took Dallas 8 hours, 49 minutes to make the run from there to Nome.
Mushers, officials and reporters who’ve spent a time on the Iditarod Trail generally seem to agree it would be hard for a stranger to get to White Mountain – the journey can be made only by airplane or snowmachine – and not be noticed by someone, but it is not impossible.
Still, another musher or someone associated with the Iditarod – an official, a checker or a vet – would appear to have a better chance of doping a musher’s dogs there. The only other musher in White Mountain aside from the aforementioned finishing group was Jesse Royer from Montana. Her mother can’t imagine her doing it, but Royer herself has yet to respond to a request as to what she knows.
Dallas has, however, suggested possibilities other than Nome or White Mountain.
Seavey version: “They didn’t have a conclusion. The Iditarod did not have a position. All of this talking back and forth, the information got handed around, bumped around. There was never a panel. There was never a formal way to present evidence. Nobody was in charge of analysing those evidences. And additionally when legal told them that even if they did find that I was guilty, they couldn’t prove it or do anything. They just dropped it. They just dropped it. They didn’t try to prove my innocence.”
Iditarod apparently took offense at the idea the evidence wasn’t well analyzed.
Iditarod version: “According to Dr. (Morrie) Craig, on March 15, approximately six hours after finishing the race, a drug testing team comprised of three trained individuals took urine samples in bags from four dogs in Musher X’s (Dallas Seavey’s) team.
“A separate individual, the recorder, broke the tamper proof seals on three cups,
transferred the samples from the bags into individual cups, and placed new tamper
proof seals and identifying bar codes on those cups. One cup contained two samples
from two dogs, a common practice known as batching.
“An observer from Musher X’s (Dallas Seavey’s) kennel was present and observed the collection of the urine as well as the transfer, sealing and bar coding of each cup. A very important part of the chain of custody process is identifying the dogs by bib number and dog tag letter on each sample submission card. In this case, the batched sample submission card contained Musher X’s (Dallas Seavey’s) bib number and the dog tag letters from two dogs on one common bar code on the batched sample.
“At that point, the musher’s representative confirmed that the urine was collected, the samples were sealed, and the musher’s representative signed each sample submission card as a witness. The next step in the chain of custody involved placing the barcoded cups in a locked box and moving them to a secured freezer in Nome pending overnight air transportation to the lab. The lab which ITC utilizes is qualified and accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) to the ISO 17025 quality standard.
“That lab must participate in a proficiency program for quality assurance by the Association of the Official Racing Chemists. Samples are first screened by a LC/MS/MS (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry) system which allows detection of 375 different drugs. Any positives are then reconfirmed by a second LC/MS/MS analysis specific to the detected drug to obtain more robust data. The sample submission cards with the identity of the dogs and their bar code numbers remain secure with the Dr. Craig, so the lab does not even know the identity of the musher associated with each barcoded sample.”
The samples were shipped March 16. They were unsealed the next day in the lab and found positive for tramadol. Three days later, a second sample – essentially the B sample – was tested. It also game back positive.
Dallas was notified of the positive tests on April 10. He did not ask for another, according to Iditarod. Instead talks began between Dallas and the Iditarod that went on for months before they disintegrated into a very public dispute that now threatens The Last Great Race.
Craig is highly respected toxicologist with Oregon State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He is a member of the Greyhound Hall of Fame. According to the Greyhound Hall, he pioneered the “National Greyhound Association’s drug testing program for the national meets, giving credibility to the NGA’s track stake program and auctions. He chronicled detection and clearance times of legitimate medications in greyhounds in 1995 and again in 2007.”
Craig was in 1996 named Oregon Scientist of the Year.
Tramadol has been studied in greyhounds. “Tramadol was well tolerated, and a significant increase in pain-pressure thresholds was evident 5 and 6 hours after administration,” a 2011 study reported.
Australia’s Greyhound Racing NWS says this about the drug: “It may be a useful pain
relieving medication for those On Track Veterinarians reluctant to carry controlled substances on racetracks, however it is not suitable for management of fractures or severe injury. It is extremely safe” and may be combined with other drugs.”
It has suggested a musher might use tramadol to reduce pain in dogs and keep them from limping to the finish in Nome, which would not be good for a musher’s image. Bob Sept, a former chief veterinarian for the Iditarod and one-time board president, said there are better drugs.
Sept said he just can’t believe Dallas would dope his dogs. Others said the same.
Sadly, modern sports is full of stories of people who expressed similar sentiments only to be sadly disappointed.
What to think?
I can’t shake the thought it was an over-zelous vet walking through the dark dog lot after the finish or perhaps even a handler with a stash of tramadol, perhaps left over from use in post race training, who, unaware the urine hadn’t already been collected as was the normal practice, saw some restless dogs and thought they might rest more comfortably, stuffed in a tramadol. And is now too terrified to admit to an unauthorized “moment of empathy”.
The race was/is important to me. I’ll rest better hoping it wasn’t a cheat or done with malicious intent…an innocent enough mistake.
i’ve thought the same. if Dallas was sabotaged, what you suggest seems far and away the most likely.
you guys keep avoiding the obvious….any crack head could get Tramadol (Ultram) for 5 dollars a pill in Wasilla….this stuff is everywhere in the Valley.
I would like to think that a licensed trail veterinarian, having been schooled during their initial education on such things as establishing a valid patient/client/veterinarian relationship that is ethically required in order to render non-emergency aid, reinforced by the annual licensing requirements for their home state +/- the Alaska courtesy license that every trail veterinarian is required to have, plus the annual state and federal controlled substance permit renewals that again emphasize the legal requirements for administering or dispensing scheduled narcotics like tramadol (including penalties such as fines, loss of license, and jail for illegal diversion of said narcotics), plus the recent establishment of state tracking systems for all scheduled narcotics to help detect illegal diversion…..
With all of that, I would like to think that a licensed veterinarian would not be wandering around the Nome dog lot like a modern day Candy Man, anonymously bringing treats to all the little girl and boy puppy dogs. Yep, I would like to think that.
I would like to think that also. I would also like to think that Dallas didn’t do it and it wasn’t sabotage.
You or some one who shares your name had a lot of knowledge on the subject of vet licensing, patient relationships and etc.
The patient/client/vet relationship doesn’t follow typical patterns during the Iditarod. Dogs have died in recent years under the supervision of vets because no one even checked on them over night.
You make it sound like the dogs wouldn’t benefit from the tramadol. What if the vet wasn’t handing it out like candy but instead made a very conscious decision to do so. Obviously medical records should of reflected this and I have no defense for that.
Nome tends to be the “holy grail” checkpoint. It normally takes a few years of volunteering to get to Nome. If you purchased the Tramadol a few years ago it is possible you might still have some. Not sure what the shelf life is, but it’s a possibility.
Arguing aginst myself I am not too sure about the testing of four dogs and all four dogs testing positive. What are the odds the vet gave four dogs tram. And then of those they picked the four for testing. Not sure how the batching of the results play into this but…
It’s a mystery…
Whatever else J, this mention of four dogs testing positive seems, to me anyway, incorrect.
Because of the batching of those two dogs, that came back positive, my opinion is that the most that can be inferred about those two dogs is that “at least one of them tested positive.” And we can’t say which dog, either. Naturally, if the dosage(s) were known, one dog with the drug mixed with one dog without would result in a somewhat diluted stage over a testing of the drugged dog by itself.
I’ve never heard the reasoning for that batching, by the way. It does result in a positive test (where one exists) which is all that’s really necessary but doesn’t get at which dog was drugged for sure.
As I was writing that thought occurred to me (regarding the batching) and I didn’t have the effort to analyze what that did for my response. You are right though that it does change things.
It is my understanding that the batching is done to save costs. But my light research shows that normally when a batched sample comes back positive then the individual samples are tested. That did not happen.
My original thought about the batching was that perhaps those two individual samples were too small, by themselves, and were combined to make up volume (that would explain why no individual samples were kept). Since I’ve heard that “batching” is common and used to save money but that individual samples are kept in case the batched sample tests positive-for whatever reason those two individual samples were not kept.
Clearly, some sort of blunder took place here by the test team.
However, it still resulted in a “positive test” where at least one dog can be said to have been drugged. Not the best outcome, for sure, and my guess is the folks in charge will see that this blunder doesn’t repeat itself.
“heard” from whom, Bill? ie. “I’ve heard that “batching” is common and used to save money but that individual samples are kept in case the batched sample tests positive-for whatever reason those two individual samples were not kept.” i’ve certainly not heard the latter part of that claim.
Craig, here is my recollection of where I heard that the individual samples were not kept :
October 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm
“I value accuracy and truthfulness. When samples are batched, they don’t combine the entire amount of urine. But that’s what the Iditarod did. Normally, if a sample shows positive, the individual samples are retested. In the case of the two dogs whose urine was batched, there were no individual samples kept.”
This comment was made by Lisbeth and, of course, its entirely possible she knows not of what she speaks-on the other hand, she values accuracy and truthfulness.
Also Craig, that comment came from your post “Iditarod turmoil.”
Just as an aside, were single samples kept what would the reason be they were not tested??
This ITC statement (http://d3r6t1k4mqz5i.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/10.23.17_Iditarod_ITC-Statement-to-IOFC.pdf?x86326) mentions that the test team utilized three special cups for the samples.
Were there a couple of individual samples also kept, there would have needed to have been five special cups IMO.
one would hope they checked all the vets as soon as they had a positive, before there was reason to be terrified, but did they? Has any one asked and otten a reply?
it’s on the question listen. i’m still awaiting a reply.
Of course Seavey didn;t do it. It was the dope fairy. Puh-leeze. The Iditarod just keeps getting uglier and deadlier. End it already.
I agree with you Mr. Shapiro 100%….a positive test is a positive test…the Iditarod is completely outdated for current culture.
A bit late, but here is my experience with Tramadol:
My dog had a disease that caused a progressive lameness in the hindquarters. He was more and more unsteady. He was stumbling around, twisting and torqueing his hind legs. We first tried Rimadyl, no effect… Then we got Onsior, slightly better… Then the veterinary proscribed Tramadol. It tasted horribly, so I had to hide it well. The effect though was shocking! Before the switch, the cripple had just emptied his blader in one go, before he turned around and wanted to go home. With Tramadol he became a prancing pony who was almost oblivious to his pain. He jumped along the trail like a rabbit (jumping with both hind legs together was the easiest way for him to “walk” at that point), and I had to turn back home before he “walked” too far and hurt himself. What was really weird was that he showed more signs of pain in the joints on touch, compared with when he got Onsior. But he was SO happy he just didn’t care! After two and a half weeks on Tramadol the lameness had progressed so far I had to put him down… But in those weeks he was more happy and carefree, and moved far better than in the month before! It was like he was on “morphine-light”.
My point is: For a dog that is bound to be sore in his joints and paws, Tramadol would be a scaringly effective drug. The dog would be far more willing to do something it definitively shouldn’t do: To just keep on running!
thanks. the drug does seem very individual specific as in people.
Not that I’m questioning your decision to put down this dog Arnstein, but there does seem to be an inconsistency in your story. What I find sort of confusing is “After two and a half weeks on Tramadol the lameness had progressed so far I had to put him down…,” and yet you also go on to say he “moved far better than in the month before!”
Just my opinion here, but I’m having trouble squaring that circle.
I’m Norwegian so I am not able to express myself as pointedly as in my own language.
His muscle and sense of where his legs were were disappearing. The last week I had to babysit him full time to rescue him from different situasions. For example he would fall on his butt without being able to get up. This was worst indoors. If I lived in the country and he had a dog yard we could have kept on maybe a week or two more. But I lived in an apartment. And he was slipping and hurting himself on the floor. I couldn’t just install a wall to wall carpet either as he was struggling more and more with incontinence as well. But outdoors he beat the pain threshold easily and smiling, and he had good grip for his feet (we lived next to a park). The last week I wet his paws every couple of hours so he got grip enough to move around more or less in control.
Tramadol made his mind overcome his body, and with a smile! The last day he was still smiling, but unfortunately the time to stop everything really had arrived…
I am not criticizing finishing Iditarod with tired dogs. But dogs that need Tramadol in order to finish a race really shouldn’t be there.
This disease sounds to me like severe hip dysplasia, to me. You haven’t mentioned the age but I know of a case that sounds similar where a young dog had almost no hip sockets at all with symptoms like your dog.
I’m sorry for your outcome.
Perhaps I’ve missed something here Arnstein, but has there been any conclusion that tramadol was needed by these dogs “in order to finish a race…?”
A long story with a lot of technical english, but:
Earlier in his disease I bought a full MR-scan of his spine and hips. The conclusion from a veterinary specialist was that it was a side effect from another problem. It caused progressive damage to the central nervous system, and therefore the longest nerves were the most affected. That means the signals to and from his hind legs and his tail. We tried some different stuff. But nothing worked, and pain management were the goal in the end.
The way Tramadol worked on him seemed much more mental than actual pain killing. It made him happy and carefree, while he became more sensitive to the touch on his joints compared with when he was on Onsior. I think it was a bit like a top athlete. Top athletes seem to always have niggles and injuries. But they just put it aside and carry on, unlike what most others do.
That Seavays dogs needed Tramadol in order to finish was badly put from me. It was a hypothetical situasion, and sorry for that. Really. But it is so easy to picture a situasion where dogs would limp and look down and unhappy at the end of a long and gruelling race. So if they could get eager and carefree from a few Tramadol (it is cheap as well), nobody would wrinkle a nose or think that anything was wrong. They would just smile and push on through that pain like it was nothing at all.
And that is why from my experience Tramadol is such a scary medicine when used in the wrong way. A really powerful way to dope dogs towards the end in long distance dog racing. Taking away unhappiness. Making them feel great! It could make them do things they would protest on one way or the other if they were unmedicated.
Well Arnstein, you seem to be making the case for handing out tramadol to all the dogs towards the end of Iditarod (mushers, too)!? Unless the dogs had injuries, they would benefit from all that happiness.
I’m sure ITC will want to hear your story.
I really tried to argue strongly for the opposite. Medicate the dogs would be Michele Ferraris argument. A down and unhappy dog in the Iditarod would first of all need rest. Medicated and running WITH injuries would carry a strong risk to cause further damage.
And I should also say that I am convinced that ITC knows all about this. That is why they have forbidden Tramadol and put the burden of proof upon the musher.
If you read my post, Arnstein you will see that I mentioned “unless the dog had injuries.”
Your arguing for not using the drug because it could cause problems for injured dogs but if say vets determine that no injuries are present then by all means perk them up and have them finish in style.
Soon the vets will be bringing in that tramadol in 55 gallon drums. Heheh!
I’m just clowning here but you get the idea, right. Pain killers and anti-inflamatory drugs are prohibited because they can mask pain in a dog that might be injured, furthering the injury as I understand their policy. However, if we could somehow determine that the dog(s) in question are not injured then you argument would go a long way towards allowing tramadol IMO.
That argument actually has quite a few followers. But that is for medication om humans. It certainly has its merits, but I’m old fashioned and against it.
On animals I’m totally against it. Because we choose for them.
I think that medication is what you turn to when the body has a problem or disease that it can’t deal with properly by itself. When rest, exercise, time and so on doesn’t work is when you should turn to medication.
Medication is then used to heal, prevent, slow or soothe the problem or disease. But, in my opinion, ONLY if the body can’t deal with it in a satisfactory way.
Thanks a lot for the discussion, but that is it from me. Have a nice day!
Yessir Arnstein, what you have described as the results of tramadol on your dog is sort of a “Prozac for dogs” along with some pain killing. That pain killing effect is what seems to make it a problem.
You have a nice day, too.
Arnstien: Bill Yankee knows exactly what you were trying to convey. And he knows the benefits of the drug even though he professes ignorance. The drug Has similar effects as a steroid administered to a dog with crippling arthritis. It seems to give them new life but has a very bad side. It allows them to be so active they aggravate their condition so that when the drug wears off their condition is worse. Bill Y is strongly on the side of the Iditarod, no matter what the evidence is. His attempt to spin what you said did not work.
AF, it’s starting to look like you have become a stalker.
And I know nothing of the kind about the benefits of the drug on dogs. Your explanation doesn’t jive with a couple of folks who’ve administered the drug to their dog dying of cancer. Further here is Craig’s take on it: “the drug does seem very individual specific as in people.”
Now I’ve been accused of being on Seavey’s side and now you say I’m on Iditarod’s side. I’m not on anyone’s side but you wouldn’t have a clue about that. You seem to be wigging out about the darndest things. Are you well??
It’s time for the Cruelest Race on Earth to end. Doping, stealing, dogs dying – enough of this barbaric event.
This is such cloak and dagger bs. Seavey sounds like so many of the endurance athletes that get popped. They make up all these ridiculous reasons and excuse how the drugs appeared in their samples. The whole sabotage theory sounds impossible to prove or disprove so someone was smart to come up with it. A change to the strict liability rule is probably a good step. Although who ever gave the drug to the dogs probably could be prosecuted for having possession and administering a controlled substance.
Jim: but you’ve got agree the sabotage argument is a wonderful out, right? and it could be used in any event. just get someone to hand you a water bottle, take a swig, toss the bottle and claim “sabotage.” in the tour, there might even be video of you grabbing the bottle. and the excuses? the excuses are so easy: “i was dying of thirst on that climb. i didn’t have any teammates to grab bottles. what else was i supposed to do? i knew it was a risk, but who’d spike a water bottle with EPO? it’s crazy. i’d never expect that. and now here i am. i’m innocent. i was sabotaged. maybe one of my competitors was involved. some of them don’t like me.”
As yes, Medred fanning the flames as usual. And for what reason? To get more web site clicks? Definitely not to help anything. Time to move on. The war is over. Positive drug test led to ITC realizing their drug rules were lax which has led to them rewriting them to be like all pro sports. The ITC didn’t want a shit storm about their poor drug rules so via legal advice they let things slide. The ITC now wishes they didn’t do this. The Finishers’ Club wanted a shit storm, and they got it by getting Dallas’s name as Musher X. Post shit storm will result in collaboration between ITC and mushers for better rules for handling positive drug tests. Things were broken. Things are getting fixed. Sponsors are sticking around. The Iditarod will continue. Dallas is pissed. Dallas will get over it. Dallas won’t get punished. Dallas will win future Iditarods. Come on folks, and Craig … get a life and move on. Puleez.
James, the Iditarod’s new drug rule is terrible! It requires mushers to prove a negative, to prove they didn’t do something. In addition, it legitimizes polygraph tests. The results of these tests have long been disputed; they have a history of false positives and false negatives.
Even if the Iditarod placed cameras at checkpoints, including the dog lot in Nome, someone could easily stick an opioid into a tasty treat and surreptitiously get it into a dog’s mouth.
It is impossible to monitor what happens on the trail, where anyone can leave an opioid-laced treat on the ground for dogs to eat.
The Iditarod has many problems and some of them are unsolvable.
I’m confused, are you lisbet Norris?
No. I am Lisbeth, with an “h” at the end, like the woman in the novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
I think Craig is doing an excellent job; sometimes the truth hurts.
Towards this end, the truth, the ITC has more to loose by not hiring an outside investigation into the positive test results.
The drug test results, the level of drugs in the system, indicate that they were administered hours prior to the team finishing. The looser legal definition of ‘intent’ means having knowledge of wrongdoing. The preponderance of the evidence, the drug test and analysis, rules out the intent argument being used by the ITC, in their desire to hold Dallas harmless. There really needs to be an independent investigation because the ITC and Dallas have shown to lack any credibility in this; if not there is a black cloud hanging over the future of the Iditarod.
yes James. to get more website clicks to generate the “big bucks.” want to know how many contributions have come into craigmedred.news since i started writing about this? zero, zilch, nada. if i had half a brain – or if i was able to practice capitalism a fraction as well as i understand it – i would be writing about something else because this is a huge money loser. since this started, i’ve actually managed to earn myself a negative $20/hour. but i can’t help myself. i love a good whodunit. and that’s what we’ve got here. Dallas Seavey’s dogs were doped. there’s no argument on that. he says he didn’t do it. is he telling the truth or is he lying? if he’s telling the truth, who did it? well meaning animal-rights activists? most of them can’t find their asses with both hands. another musher? they’re such walking zombies by Nome they can barely find their own team let alone figure out whose to dope. hell, there’s a theory i never thought of. Nic’s team was tested and done with, and he gave tramadol to Dallas’s team thinking he was giving it to his own team. that might work, except Dallas says in one interview his dogs were looking “down” like they’d been hit with a sedative when he reached Nome. it’s a friggin’ Idit-a-mystery.
I would venture to say that those of you that wish to end the Iditarod based on your opinions of the leading finishers might have a different opinion if you could have a look at the rest of the field. Some of these people have given it all they have, spending money, not making money, to live a dream. So many dogs don’t finish because the musher knows better, and leaves them behind. There is truth to the things you hear about somebody wanting to see Alaska with their sixteen best friends. Unfortunately, mushing for a living and high purses may lead one to bad decisions. I don’t know and I’m not opinionated about it. What I do know is that I love my sled dogs and care for them daily, and if I could afford to enter the world of long distance racing, the dogs would not complain. At that point it’s on me to recognize what we can and cannot do, and act accordingly.
This website craigmedred.news has the best comment section… I see lots of strong opinions here, and none of the stupid shit that pollutes most news article comments.
Enough. Let’s just call it even and move on. The only thing is rules clarity and security need improvement. Talk it out. Take a chill pill. I like the idea of increasing dog-rest requirements along the trail..
For what its worth, chris what you like will change the race and make it more of a speed thing between checkpoints. And we already have a lot of speed races. Its too bad that Joe Redington isn’t around anymore to lend his feelings here.
Joe was interested in doing something that hadn’t been done before and nobody was quite sure it could be done. And now they do it in 8 days and some even with their entire team. Cowboy Smith once said that “anybody could hook up a team of dogs (even backwards) and go to Nome but not anybody could get there in first place.”
Joe isn’t my hero. He killed dogs and fed them to other dogs. Huge numbers of dogs died in the first Iditarod races. The trail was covered in their blood. Still, he promoted the race. Then, there’s the fact that he had over 500 dogs aka big-time puppy mill and beat his dogs. What a disgraceful human being!
it was a different time, Lisbeth; a far different time. i’d suggest a reading of “Blood and Thunder.” times change. behaviors change. ethics changes. don’t judge the past by the present. it’s like looking at it through a fun-house mirro.
“For what its worth, chris what you like will change the race and make it more of a speed thing between checkpoints. And we already have a lot of speed races”.
That is somewhat true but not really. It would be a 10 day “speed race”? No it would still be about skill and endurance. While maintaining the guaranteed health of the dogs.
I would suggest 4 hour rests in an account for every checkpoint. Use em when you need to.
Do you realize my one simple suggestion to increase dog-rest requirements could save the Iditarod Race? It could actually catapult it to the top!
Well chris, what you are suggesting is getting farther away from the kind of race the Yukon Quest is and for some reason that race is escaping all of this. Quest has always been a different kind of race, not a sprint between fairly close checkpoints requiring heavier loads to carry between checkpoints and you are suggesting making the Iditarod even more of a speed race between these short distances between checkpoints. Something doesn’t fit here IMO.
Perhaps you can give us your background in dog racing so’s we can get a feel for why we should get aboard your suggestions. You’ve followed these races on TV? Perhaps even attended a starting of a few dog teams!
I’m sure you mean well but throw us a bone here and give us a reason to listen to you.
Craig, I agree that things change. My point is that we shouldn’t think of Joe as a hero, someone to be praised and glorified. And, we most certainly shouldn’t name schools after him.
I’m curious if there’s evidence that dogs have tested positive in past races, but for some reason it was never made public? (maybe I missed this…)
We have three options for what happened, sabotage by an outside party, purposeful doping by the musher, or accidental/mistake.
If it’s never happened before- why now? What has changed?
Seems to me, there are far better ways to sabotage, while a mistake is really unlikely given that tramadol is a controlled opiate and generally not lying around for 4 dogs to ingest. It’s not even effective sabotage, given I’d warrant a guess that dogs have tested positive for one of the 300-plus prohibited substances in previous races but it was never made public. Thus, why would a saboteur gamble that the ITC would care this time… plus as this article details, ITC would not have penalized Dallas regardless.
Ah, working dogs of any kind- bear dogs, cougar hounds, police and military K9s, sport dogs (IPO, ring), are a can of worms. I have seen well treated and very poorly treated dogs in all venues. But one thing I’ve noticed is the dogs always look pretty happy working. Any decent dog trainer will tell you- an excited dog, or an aroused dog isn’t necessarily happy- it’s a far more complex concept.
Relative to your supposed saboteur Kiersten, assuming that this has occurred before, the saboteur would also have had to know that it been previously done to gamble accordingly IMO. And then, assuming this had occurred and the saboteur knew of it, how could he/she have known that ITC was not going to penalize this time?
Are you suggesting said saboteur was somehow connected to ITC?
exactly, Bill; you caught the fly in the ointment. but one can’t rule out an ITC volunteer or vet doing it. even then, however, the essential question remains: why would they have any faith that the scheme would work?
Craig, if they knew all that other stuff, they could have also known that ITC was going to crack down this time.
What if it was a Vet in the Nome dog lot. The ITC requires vets that have a DEA license to carry Tramadol and carry it on them. Maybe the Vet decided the race was finished and the dogs could benefit from tramadol. After all that vet has been carrying around that pill bottle in a coat pocket for the entire race-their must be a reason for it. So what if it wasn’t accidental – the vet just didn’t think of or knew of a drug test coming up.
A lot of the vets are from outside. Most of the local vets have distanced themself from the race. So assuming the vets are knowledgeable about the race rules may be a assumption that shouldn’t be taken.
Of course the dogs in my opinion really shouldn’t of been left alone. A handler should have been with them until the drug testing is complete. It is typical to have a handler wait for when the pee collectors come by to collect they have witnesses and help. I guess when you are a Seavey, King, Mackey ornother isitarod totality you start thinking the rules and SOP don’t really apply. That could backfire.
J.: we don’t know definitively that someone wasn’t with the dogs. we have Seavey’s version that they were left unattended. there might be other versions.
That’s an interesting thought J and it appears to have been an accident (if it did indeed happen this way).
I have no idea if those vets are responsible for all of their pills but any investigation (back then) would most likely have looked into it. For example, they (vets) turn in all their unused pills of tramadol and the mushers vet papers would perhaps show which of their dropped dogs received that drug (by vet). This may/may not be thorough enough at the time and would be very difficult today (perhaps not impossible). And of course if the drug were administered by a vet after the finish, it would have to be accounted for in some way or else hidden if the accident were covered up.
Unlikely IMO but certainly within the possible scenarios.
The dropped dog forms have a spot for medication given. That is the medical record. It is very sloppy to give a dog a narcotic without documenting it but none of the dogs were dropped meaning there wasn’t a actual procedure to document which dog was given medicine. Also, because the ITC requires the vets to buy there own Tramadol there is no pill count done as the vets take it back home with them. The vet would be putting there license in question but they are most likely using a courtesy license under Stu Nelson. I have family members who have vetted the race before and they believe this to be a fairly likely cause. But like all theories it does have its issues.
What I understand you are saying J: The ITC doesn’t keep track of meds given to dogs that have finished the race and further, since the vets bring their own tramadol with them and take what’s left over back home with them there appears to be no way to account for whether/not some of these pills could be misused.
I certainly hope this oversight is corrected in future races. I’m curious about this issue of tramadol being required to be carried by these vets. Is this the only drug treated this way??? Obviously this drug (tramadol) is considered to be something of a wonder drug for dropped dogs, under certain circumstances, and it shows up in a competitive team as a possible edge in the final few miles. It truly must be some kind of wonder drug!
Do you know if this drug is used by many kennels, for training purposes rather than for resting after the training?
As far as I know Tramadol s the only drug treated that way and it is due to it being a controlled narcotic. The only vets that have it are the ones with a DEA license. This changed a few years ago when Tramadol was added as a Class IV drug.
I do not think it is being used at a kennel level on a regular basis. Because it is a scheduled narcotic it is harder to get then other drugs like Rimadyl.
Things do need to change in future races obviously. Medical records need to be more complete. Accountability is a issue the ITC has struggled with for the last couple of years.
My immediate suggestion would be to randomize the drug testing. Instead of testing the top 20 teams in Nome test random teams at random checkpoints. It would make it harder to cheat and also harder to sabaotage a team.
J: they do random testing at checkpoints. they also test all of the top 20 in Nome. that’s pretty much SOP for most big-time endurance events. it’s unlikely tramadol is being used at a kennel level on a regular basis these days. it’s become more of a pain in the ass to get. but there’s no telling what kennels might have big bottles of it left around from when vets were freely handing it out.
I totally agree about the race needing to get a better handle on any drugs given by their own people.
I spoke with a friend last night and his dog was prescribed tramadol when dying of cancer-I believe DeeDee mentioned something similar to this.
As to the drug testing program, going forward, I sure don’t have a problem with random testing and frankly, I thought that was already the case. That said, I don’t see how they can not test the top teams after they finish. All sporting events that I’m aware of do something like this and “sabotage” is a possibility, of course, but my opinion here is the integrity of the Iditarod outweighs this other issue. Obviously there is going to need to be increased security to prevent potential sabotage but that’s just the nature of this beast IMO.
According to two friends who are longtime race competitors there have been positive tests, including from championship teams, the results never announced.
Did your friends happen to mention the drug(s) involved, or the reasons for not announcing??
I believe it was steroids and was linked to the meat that was being fed. Or so was claimed.
“The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.
No, no, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”
lyrics from the “Eve of Destruction”
It’s really all about the dogs, and if folks truly care about them they would end this cruel race. With all the dog deaths, half of them don’t make it (illness, injury, exhaustion), either training or being chained, excess breeding, and then culling,–all for a once-a-year, unnecessary race. It’s disgusting and disgraceful.
lucy – you really should come see. it’s not that simple. a lot of those dogs like what they’re doing on the Iditarod Trail. are there issues? sure. there are issues everywhere people keep dogs. somewhere as i write this i’m sure some over-stuffed couch potato of a dog is dying an early death because some sweet old man thought feeding him 5-pounds of chopped liver every day was a good thing.
“some over-stuffed couch potato of a dog is dying an early death because some sweet old man thought feeding him 5-pounds of chopped liver every day was a good thing.”
Once again, pointing the finger at “some sweet old man” to distract from the issue at hand.
I’ve been activist for 45 years, and at the same time worked at jobs where I had an insider’s view. At the police department, when any information leaked about what goes on behind the scenes in the K9 units (hanging dogs to unconsciousness, kicking in the stomach and groin, isolation when not in use, etc.) there were always the “invites.” Come on down! You will see for yourself that the dogs are not abused! So, we had K9 demonstrations, events at the mall, programs in the kids’ schools. But that never changes what goes on behind the scenes. The public gets to see the lovely, laundered version.
I remember when vivisectors at UCLA, in the wake of some liberations, invited the press to come and see how “well kept, and well treated, and much loved” the lab animals are. So the press comes out, the guys in the white coats are petting the bunnies, etc. So, a few people with access to the inside scoop called the press over to where the real action was, and kicked in the door. And there, for all to see, was the unvarnished truth. And it wasn’t pretty.
So, in light of all the admissions, all the exposes,’ all the photos and film, and the irrefutable evidence that dogs are being kept in (at best) stifled conditions, then made to run 1,000 miles, NO AMOUNT of “you really should come and see” is gonna fix it.
Sue: your view is awfully dark. yes, indeed, there are bad people in the world, but the good people far out number them. it’s as true of the Iditarod as of anything else.
My view is from many years of activism and experience.
Most people are quite selfish, or else the exploitation of animals for money, prizes, ego-gratification, etc., would not exist. The relatively few who really care would not have to STILL, after all these decades, be saying the same things, doing the same expose’s, because the majority wake up very slowly, especially when they prefer to believe the lies and twists. It’s more comfortable for them that way.
I remember, early on (around 1972) when someone said to me, “I admire what you are attempting to do, but it’s kind of like trying to roller-skate uphill. Little did I know at the time how right he was.
I am glad that some of what goes on has finally reached the light of day, after a very long time. We’ll see if it changes anything.
Craig, in your opinion, who are the good mushers? Who are the bad ones? Which criteria do you use to judge them? How do you know that some dogs enjoy being run thousands of miles in training or 1,000 miles in the race? I don’t think barking or pulling indicate canine enjoyment. I believe my dogs have barked and pulled for many reasons. But, lots of times, because I don’t speak “bark,” I’m really not sure what they’re trying to say. They’ve all loved to run and jump around. I think those are dog “things.”
Half of them don’t make it??? What planet do you live on?
Bill, all one has to do is check the “Standings” at the Iditarod website. Dallas, for instance, finished this year’s race with only 6 dogs from the 16 he started with,–that’s less than half.
Lucy: it was seven; last year when he won it was six.
I agree with James Sweeney: I love the dogs. If the mushers don’t clean up their act I’m gone. I have followed the race for decades, and had heard from many people that mushers no longer cull their dogs (I know, a different article; but for us Outside fans this is all one ball of wax…or dog poop.) Seeing the divisiveness of people actually involved in Iditarod, and having skeletons falling out of those tightly closed closets is disillusioning at best. Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE my illusions to fall away; but these are some really stinky skeletons crawling around. Many fans have been having conversations for the last couple of years about the Iditarod becoming all about speed rather than a celebration of Alaska and its culture…and many of us are not interested in how fast dogs can possibly run. Many now agree we would much prefer this to become a stage race in the interests of the dogs. Look at the ads: look at the fans: “It’s all about the dogs”….but not so much anymore. Now it’s all about the speed and the egos.
Jane, I too worry about the dogs and the stress of long runs and speed. I know they can condition for some of that, but many dogs do get sick and have problems that may be attributed to the stress. I really don’t think its all bad food, the usual reason given. I am much more skeptical of everything now. I hope if anyone is giving dogs drugs in training, they stop. If it was some sick, twisted person who did this to Dallas’s dogs, may KARA visit them. It could have been some simple mistake somewhere along the line, stranger things have happened. I hope the ITC and the mushers talk to each other as Mitch Seavey suggested and workable solutions are found. I think there are so many good things for all dogs because of the race, promoting good dog care, new treatments for common problems, better food and equipment and advancements through research on what these amazing dogs can do. Let’s see if the ITC and the mushers really mean it when they say it’s all about the dogs.
Lost in all this is how the dogs suffer for this race. They are forced to run nearly 100 miles a day and pushed far past their healthy limits. Five dogs died in less than a week during this year’s race alone. It’s time to end it.
You left something out in your timeline. The ITC press release says the first sample was tested on March 17 and found tramadol. Teams were still on the trail and using the holding area until the18th when the last team finished. Teams stayed in Nome for the banquet on the 19th and then flew out on the 20th. But the lab didn’t do test B till the 20th and notified the vet in charge of the tramadol finding on the 20th. Teams were still in Nome.
Why didn’t the lab notify ITC on the 17th so they could take precautions in Nome while teams were still racing. Why didn’t ITC notify mushers to increase security of their dogs on the 20th. And, did ITC notify Seavey immediately on the 20th and ask him to include a drug test in the other blood testing he was doing voluntarily on his dogs. Those blood tests were done in cooperation with the Iditarod vet program. Will the other mushers and race fans ever get to hear the details of those blood tests? If the blood was tested and found negative for tramadol I’m sure we would have heard about it right away. Seavey has not been clear about the blood tests in his interviews. He even said in one that “he doesn’t know” if the blood tests would have detected tramadol. 6 months after the tests were done he still doesn’t know?
Seavey mentions as Musher X that he thought Race Marshall Nordman wanted him to come back with a story about accidental exposure to the drug. How would that happen? The BAGS. Those little clear zip locks that they collect the urine in are also used to contain small amounts of little white pills which are handed out to mushers to control diahrea. Could those little bags that were used to collect urine have previously also been used to hold pills? Or could some little bags of pills gotten mixed up? The vets have acknowledged that they have tramadol on hand during the race for dropped dogs. And those tramadol pills look just like the little white diahrea pills according to an article with pictures in Outside Online. Could those pills have gotten mixed up? Possibly. And it does make a good excuse for the whole mess…something to calm things down before the DEA gets involved…’cause, after all, this is a class 4, controlled opioid we’re talking about…the stuff the DEA is struggling to control.
i don’t know the answer to your question, but all of the top-20 teams were in Nome by the 17th, and nobody outside the top-20 gets tested. there would really be no need to worry about them even if you accepted there was a mysterious Saboteur X on the loose trying to give dogs drugs to make them fail doping tests.
i know the drug lab did not test the Seavey blood, and the people there believe it was destroyed. i do not know if Iditarod asked for the blood, which belonged to Seavey, but i’m trying to find out.
i think it’s plausible pills could have gotten mixed up. i can only guess Nordman was fishing for an answer saying “yeah, we gave the dogs some little white pills in Nome,” and didn’t get it. i’d have to go watch Seavey’s youtube video, but my recollection is that he strongly dismisses the accident idea there.
i don’t think anyone is reusing bags to collect urine anymore. i would hope not. the summary of the doping report says “a
drug testing team, comprised of three trained individuals, took urine samples.” i would open trained individuals would understand the need for sterile collection bags.
Tramadol is not detectable in a normal blood test such as Seavey had done on his own hook after he finished. I doubt if there is any of that blood still around? It can be tested for in a blood sample with a test that targets it. Tramadol is detectable in urine samples 2 hours after it is given. Not much sooner. Up to 40 hours or so- then it is gone……unless there is habitual use.
This research opened an interesting window for me. Dallas was at the finish line for a time. Then his voluntary blood draw was taken? (I don’t have the timeline, but some must.). We know the urine test was done at approx. 6 hrs. After the finish. This narrows the “after finish scenario considerably.” Additionally, Tramadol has a half-life of a bit over 6 hours. We have heard there were metabolites present. Does that mean some of the drug was already breaking down?
Any drug people out there that have a definitive answer? If Tramadol was detected in a saturated condition, and alsowith metabolites present, could that indicate 2 separate doses? I haven’t found the answers to these questions, maybe someone can help?
King and Castillo want an independent investigation. It is 7 months after the fact of a positive drug test. We are going to be limited to the results on hand.
you’re asking the right questions, John. but the half-life is more like 1 1/2 to 2 hours in dogs. there’s a paper on it out of the U-Penn vet school. the only way i can see they get the 15 hour estimate is metabolites. and Stu Nelson has been firm about the 15 hours. that is one question i did get an answer to. two doses was one of my first thoughts, the second dose intended to cover the first with the explanation “i thought the dog had already peed. sorry.”
I love the dogs. I’ve followed the race for 35 years, if the mushers don’t clean up their act I’m gone
I agree with Jennofur OConnor. Watching self-absorbed oblivious people debate superfluous issues among themselves, while ignoring the elephant in the room, which in this case is over-all cruel use of dogs for their own grandstanding, would be amusing if it wasn’t ongoing.
Pretty Sad, Pretty, Pretty, SAD!!
You should make a comeback Doug Swingley
The Arctic Sounder thinks cameras should be installed at checkpoints. They may have some deterrent effect, but nothing in life is 100 percent. Pills stuck into yummy treats could still be surreptitiously tossed to dogs. Life on the trail can never be monitored. Mushers have complained about teams ahead of them leaving food and other stuff on the trail which their dogs then eat. The trails are open to people in snowmobiles, walkers, etc. who may not like the race for a variety of reasons.
The Iditarod’s drug rule was bad and the new one is absurd. It asks mushers to prove a negative and gives validity to polygraph tests that have a history of being unreliable.
If the Iditarod actually cared about dogs being drugged or treated humanely, why has it done nothing to stop mushers from giving dogs drugs during training, or stopped mushers from leaving dogs outside to freeze to death, etc. Even so, the Iditarod couldn’t stop mushers from killing many thousands of unwanted dogs.
The ball is in the mushers court. When the animal rights activists read about thousands of dead dogs the Iditarod is doomed and most likely the mushing tours. Bicycle racing is mostly dead in the USA since Lance Armstrong’s debacle. Our top riders live in this shadow and don’t get to race in the tour. You seem like a great gal I hope it works out for you
let’s hope not, James. some of us love the Iditarod. and i can testify that along with a few people who would do anything to win there are a bunch of those the late Jerry Austin used to describe as “stupid dog lovers” in that mix. i’d say most probably fit that qualification.
James, the best to you, too.
I think mushing tours may survive, if mushers remove their dogs from tethers and provide warm places for them to live in winter. If Zoya and John, (who rescue sled dogs) did these things, and Zoya stopped signing up for the Iditarod, their business might become a star attraction. Mushing tours are expensive. The well-heeled people who take them are more likely to be better educated and care about the welfare of dogs.
Years ago, Craig advocated for turning the Iditarod into a stage-stop race. I don’t know if he still feels this way. But a stage-stop race would likely be better for the dogs.
A famous philosopher said “The only permanent thing is change.” Another one said, Adapt or die” The tiny grocery stores at the end of urban streets were replaced by big supermarkets. Now some people buy groceries online which are delivered by drones. Old events die. Businesses die. New ones grow. Change is inevitable.
The Iditarod is a disgrace through and through. It’s time to throw in the towel and call it a day.
Shirley. You got it right. This issue has deteriorated into; I believe Dallas, I don’t believe. No way to resolve that. Maybe we should move on? The ITC did, they rewrote the rule to mirror drug doping rules everywhere. A positive step. I believe Dallas also needs to move on. Hook up some pups, go do a moonlight run. I did–made me realize what was important. I stopped, looked up at the stars, and realized how damn small I really am. Of course while I did that— a couple of my little crazies chewed up their necklines…..
funny, John, i resorted to much the same antidote though there’s now only one dog to take along and he got to free run because we have no damn snow! and because the bikejoring thing is too dangerous. something about being towed around by a dog doing 20 mph or better on bad trail in the dark seems just too reckless now. but it was nice to stop at the top of the trail high in the Chugach and look at the stars and put this into perspective. i feel sorry for Dallas to be caught up in it. but Iditarod can’t really run a doping program without a strict liability rule because without one doping rules become a sham. it seems ITC’s only real choices going forward are 1.) the strict liability rule they’ve proposed or 2.) dump the doping prohibition and use the money it eats up, which is significant, elsewhere. if that opens the door to everyone openly doing, well, at lest over time the competitive field will level itself, and Michele Ferrari might argue doing the Iditarod doped is better for the dogs than doing it undoped.
Please tell me if I got this right because it doesn’t make sense. Under the old ITC rules on doping, there was nothing the ITC could do because they couldn’t prove the musher or whoever did it. So….what was the purpose of having the rule? A feel good rule thinking the fans and mushers were too stupid to realize it couldn’t be enforced. Guilty, I was too stupid. I don’t know about the mushers, though they strike me as a pretty bright bunch.
Shirley: i think they thought they could enforce it, but that they never thought about it much until it became a real and serious issue. but this is another part of the story that hasn’t been told yet: how did ITC come to the conclusion they couldn’t enforce it? one can speculate Seavey said he’d sue if they enforced it, and they decided it would cost the ITC a lot to go to court and they might lose. but there’s already too much speculation surrounding all of this.