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The plot thickens

 

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 A generic photo of the Iditarod dog yard in Nome where Dallas Seavey believes his dogs were “most likely” doped by sabotage

 

A month on from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s first, publicly reported case of doping, four-time champ Dallas Seavey has hired a self-proclaimed San Fransisco “fixer” to clear him of doping accusations, and one of the many volunteers who make The Last Great Race a reality is questioning Seavey’s claim his team was sabotaged in Nome.

Bill Dickinson from Grand Rapids, Mich., was working the Nome finishing chute of the 1,000-mile race this year and was regularly in and out of the nearby dog yard on the evening Seavey finished. He is skeptical of the sabotage claim.

“I don’t have anything against the Seaveys,” he said in a telephone interview on Saturday, but 30-year-old Dallas’s suggestion that there were a lot of people in and around the dog yard who could have slipped a pain-killing drug to his dogs just doesn’t hold water.

“I didn’t see anybody doing anything with the dogs,” said Dickinson, who described a quiet dog yard all through the evening of March 14. Mitch Seavey from Sterling, Dallas’s father, reached Nome at about 3:40 on that Tuesday afternoon to claim his third Iditarod victory.

His son followed about two hours and 20 minute later to claim runner-up honors. Over the course of the next four hours, only Frenchman Nic Petit from Girdwood joined the group. The teams of these three mushers were the only ones in the dog lot during the time when the dogs could have been doped with tramadol, a synthetic opioid, according to the timeline compiled by drug testing authorities. 

Mitch had 11 huskies left in his team when he finished in Nome; Dallas, seven; and Petit, 13; for a total of 31 dogs in the yard

Four dogs in Dallas’s team were later found to have been doped with tramadol, a synthetic opiod. They were the only four Dallas dogs tested by Iditarod officials. The four out of four selection from a pool of seven makes the probability high all of the dogs were doped.

None of the dogs in Mitch’s team or Petit’s team were doped.

There weren’t a lot of dogs to watch over in the dog yard, Dickinson noted, despite claims Dallas made to Alaska Dispatch News and other news sources that “it’s not uncommon to see a couple hundred dogs” in the lot. And Dickinson didn’t much like Dallas’s finger-pointing at others involved with Iditarod.

“They (the Seaveys) don’t have to be blaming everyone else for what they did, for something they did,” he said.

Iditarod’s foundation

Dickinson is one of the army of 1,500 to 2,000 volunteers who each year enable the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) – a private, non-profit with a paid staff of only eight people – to stage the race from Willow to Nome or, sometimes in recent years, from Fairbanks to Nome.

Many of the volunteers are Alaskans, but a significant number  come from Outside. The 66-year-old Dickinson has been coming for the past five years and plans to be back this year.

His annual Idit-a-adventure annually costs him $5,000 to $6,000, he said, but he loves watching the race and talking to the mushers. Still, he admits to concerns about where the race is headed.

“They need to clean up the top of the Iditarod,” he said.

The top has pushed the Iditarod from a 9- to 9 1/2-day race at the start of the decade to an 8 1/2-day or faster race in the last two years. Mitch set the course record this year with a time of 8-days, 3 hours and 40 minutes. Dallas’s time of 8 days, 6 hours, 24 minutes also broke the 8-day, 11-hour record he set only a year earlier.

Dickinson watched a youtube video in which Dallas proclaimed his innocence. The video did not leave Dickinson with the impression Dallas wanted to convey.

“You look at Dallas. You watch him talk. He’s lying,” Dickinson said. “He’s a liar.”

In part, Dickinson bases this conclusion on the video, but not just the video. Dickinson worked the Iditarod’s ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage as well as the finish in Nome this year.

Despite finishing with the second fastest time in race history and with the smallest team in the race – due to injuries or fatigue Dallas dropped more than half of his 16 dogs at checkpoints along the trail to Nome – the seven dogs behind which Dallas arrived in Nome were, in Dickinson’s view, downright frisky.

After 1,000 miles in only eight days, “shouldn’t they be tired?” Dickinson asked. “They looked like they were getting ready to start.”

One study found that tramadol pills given to greyhounds reulted in a “significant increase in pain-pressure thresholds…5 and 6 hours after administration.” 

Still, a canine researcher who has studied the drug extenstively said “the myth of tramadol in dogs is greater than the reality,” largely because the drug doesn’t produce the same opioid-like response in dogs that it does in humans.  But, he added, tramadol  can produce effects through serotonin and norepinephrine pathways.

He compared it in that way to the the popular human drug Cymbalta. Cymbalta is an anti-depressant now widely prescribed to treat fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder marked by widespread muscle pain and tenderness, and overwhelming tiredness. These are ailments from which Iditarod dogs often appear to be suffering as they near the end of the Iditarod.

Differing views

How dogs look at the finish of the Iditarod is a decidedly subjective matter. Dallas himself has offered conflicting views on the state of his team.

He told  Anchorage’s KTVA-TV. that he thought his dogs looked “down” in Nome, and when later informed they had been doped with tramadol, which can make some dogs sleepy, he suddenly knew why.

“…When this whole thing came up, it was like, “Oh, now I see what was going on. They were hit with a heavy sedative,” he said, adding that “I’ve never seen them finish like that, or after the finish be like that. And that was a bit concerning.”

Despite this early suggestion the dogs were doped before arrival in Nome, Dallas later changed his story to suggest the doping took place after the finish.

The “most likely scenario,” he later told the Alaska Dispatch News in a videotaped interview, was that “somebody had this drug, and was standing there, and the dog yard is vacant at 10:30-11 at night in Nome. there’s not a soul around, and took the opportunity.”

Requests to Dallas for some explanation of how he arrived at this magic half-hour for doping have gone unanswered. Dispatch News reporter Tegan Hanlon did not ask Seavey any questions about his “most likely scenario.”

Seavey’s dogs were drug tested just before 00:30 on the morning of March 14. He had arranged for the testing to take place at the end of the maximum 6-hour window for testing.

Drug testers have calculated Dallas’s dogs were drugged anywhere from two hours before the test to 15 hours before the test.  A 10:30 p.m. doping just fits in their window.

Since Dallas was first revealed as the musher with the doped team, his defense has focused on sabotage either in Nome or possibly White Mountain, the penultimate checkpoint where mushers and their teams are required to take a mandatory, 8-hour rest before starting the final 80-mile push to Nome.

Though liquid tramadol is not easy to get – the drug usually comes in pill form – Dallas has suggested someone could have “injected” tramadol into his dog food in White Mountain.

“You’re going to run a needle into dog food that’s frozen into ice like a rock?” Dickinson asked.

Almost everyone associated with Iditarod agrees that the injection Dallas suggests would be difficult if not impossible. But if someone was committed enough, they could arguably grind tramadol pills into dust and figure out a way to get the dust into a musher’s dog food somewhere along the trail.

And if, as Dallas believes, there are other mushers out to sabotage him because they’re jealous of his success, or race officials out to sabotage him because he has at times challenged them, or animal rights activists looking for a way to discredit the race, there are potential motives for a doping Dallas calls “malicious.”

Changing tack

On Saturday, however, the Dallas anti-doping offensive shifted slightly from sabotage to faulty drug testing.

“Four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey made a formal demand this week for test results from race organizers that allegedly showed his dogs tested positive for a banned substance in this year’s competition,” Singer Associates of San Fransisco said in a nationally circulated media release. 

The company is led by Sam Singer.

“He has been dubbed ‘The Fixer’ by the San Jose Mercury News, a ‘Top Gun for Hire’ by the San Francisco Chronicle, and one of the most powerful people in the San Francisco Bay Area by 7×7 Magazine for his ability to impact the news for his agency’s clients,” according to his company bio. 

“Singer represented Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi after she was arrested for shoplifting from Neiman Marcus. The media said that Singer helped her look ‘sympathetic,'” the company says on its Our Projects page.

The Iditarod release from Singer marked the first time anyone in the Seavey camp has suggested the dogs “allegedly” were doped. Up until Saturday, there had at least appeared agreement on that one fact. Singer is now trying to raise doubts.

“The transparency of the testing process, test methodology, chain of custody of samples, and results from the race organizers, Iditarod Trail Committee, must be made public,” the press release said.

The Iditarod had already outlined much of the methodology and chain of custody in an Oct. 23 press release responding to accusations from a Musher X, who questioned the drug testing. Musher X turned out to be Dallas.

The ITC response to Musher X outlined how “three trained individuals took urine samples in bags from four dogs;” “batched” two of the samples (a cost saving measure), and placed the samples into three tamper-proof, barcoded cups. Dallas’s wife, Jen, witnessed the collection of the urine and signed off as the witness to the seals on the cups.

The cups went into a locked box. The box went into a secured freezer in Nome for the night and was shipped to an accredited lab Outside the next day. The urine was unsealed and scanned using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. The lab technicians saw only bar codes on the samples.

Sample submission cards with the  identity of the dogs  and the musher remained with Dr. Morrie Craig, the Oregon State University toxicologist who has overseen the Iditarod drug testing program for more than 20 years.

When the samples came back positive for tramadol, they were retested. They came back positive again. Craig then connected the name of  the musher to the samples and notified Iditarod. Iditarod notified Dallas.

“The lab result data was transmitted to Musher X (Dallas) shortly after April 10, 2017,” according to the Iditarod. Seavey appears to now want another copy.

Do over

“The Iditarod Trail Committee has received the request for the drug test results and Seavey is currently awaiting the receipt of the tests,” the Singer media release said.

“I believe this is the first positive step that can be taken to shed a public light on what has been alleged, to clear my good name, and to clear the name of our beloved sport,” Dallas was quoted as saying. “I hope this effort helps all mushers and the race itself.”

Dallas has said repeatedly that he isn’t challenging the drug test solely for himself, but for the good of the Iditarod. Dallas was not punished for doping. He was not disqualified and was not required to forfeit his $59,638 in prize money from 2017.

Neither did the Iditarod release Dallas’s name when first revealing the positive drug test. The Iditarod Trail Committee, which runs the race, tried instead to amend its drug rule to contain a “strict liability” standard without naming anyone.

Strict liability standards are the norm in sports because it is all but impossible to prove doping cases beyond a shadow of a doubt unless the doper confesses. Cyclist Floyd Landis would likely still be a Tour de France winner if the U.S. legal standard of innocent until proven guilty had applied. And if Landis been able to escape the tentacles of the U.S. Anti Doping Administration (USADA), it is unlikely he would have helped to bring down Lance Armstrong in what became the globe’s biggest doping scandal.

Dallas thinks strict liability is unfair, and that he has been treated very unfairly by Iditarod. He has dropped out of the 2018 race in protest.

He is of the opinion that when Iditarod decided it couldn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he doped, the race had an obligation to prove he didn’t dope.

“What about the part where they could have proved I’m innocent and saved the sport?” he asked Hanlon in that ADN interview.

Instead of the doing that, Dallas said, they board changed the rule “without even speaking to me,” and then conspired to reveal he was the doper.

The proposed rule change first made news on Oct. 9.

“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,” the ITC statement said. “In consultation with legal counsel, the Board of Directors determined that the ITC would likely not be able to prove intent.”

It said the musher’s name was being withheld because of the “sensitivity of the matter.”

It didn’t take an investigative reporting genius to figure out the doper was someone in the Iditarod top-20, given that only the top-20 teams in Nome are drug tested.

That one piece of information cast a shadow on the Iditarod’s biggest names. A predictable chain of events followed. Other mushers demanded Iditarod release more information.

On Oct. 17, the ITC issued a media release naming the drug. The release also revealed that “several dogs” had tested positive and that the drug could have been given up to 15 hours before the test. But again, Iditarod refused to release the name of the musher.

Dallas was unhappy about the additional information, and the next day directed Wade Marrs, president of the Iditarod Official Finishers Club, to leak to Hanlon a “Musher X” statement claiming that “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,” the statement said.

“I also contacted you through Wade Marrs,” Dallas later told the reporter. “You can verify. I texted him a text and I said, ‘Call Tegan. Read her this text,’ saying that I wanted to speak with you anonymously. The reason I wanted to talk to you anonymously was because this information in the eyes of all my peers, all the mushers, I felt needed to be out there, needed to be observed unbiasedly.”

After the state’s largest news organization published the Musher X story, the Iditarod responded on Oct. 23 with a four-page statement defending its drug testing program. The release included this statement:

“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 tests.”

Dallas then charged that the Iditarod had outed him by revealing he had asked to delay his urine test for the maximum 6 hours allowed under the rules so he could have some blood tests performed, though the Iditarod release mentioned neither blood tests nor the 6-hour time limit.

Despite missing these key words, Dallas insisted “hundreds” of mushers recognized the ITC statement referred to him. He then demanded the Iditarod release his name or he would do it himself.

In the wake of that, Iditarod that very same day finally released a statement saying that “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.”

These facts can be viewed in any number of ways, but in Dallas’s view they were all part of a complicated and well-orchestrated Iditarod plan to “throw him under the bus.” Many of those familiar with the history of Iditarod can only laugh at the idea anything the organization does is well orchestrated.

 

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59 replies »

  1. On a personal note from a fan of the Iditarod: After two visits from this Virginian in ’07 & ’08, hopscotching from checkpoint to checkpoint, after attending the ceremonial and official starts, as well as the finishes in Nome, I found the openness of the lots where the dropped dogs were kept to be one of the best parts of my visits. Having access to the teams of athletes during rest stops being the absolute best part. As special as that was to me, I also recognized how vulnerable that made the pups and the mushers to anyone bent on foul play. As much as I’d hate to see that change, better to isolate than to chance something happening to the dogs. Good on everyone who wants only what’s best for them…start to finish.

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    • Brenda: no one is talked about changing the dropped dog policy. dropped dogs are already outside of the drug-testing protocols. if they are on the list to be tested, they’re tested before they’re moved to the drop dog line.
      glad you enjoyed your Alaska visit.

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  2. Singer’s press release quotes Dallas as saying he “wants to clear his good name.” But was his name and ever good? His dogs live in old gasoline drums, are bitten by swarms of huge mosquitoes during the summer and have been fed horse meat. Dallas gives his dogs Rimadyl, a drug that’s a known canine killer as well as capfuls of Arnica. He removes the fur on a dog’s foot by using a blowtorch. (I wonder how many feet he’s burned.) Dallas wrote that during the Iditarod he uses dog booties when he runs out of toilet paper. I hope he has enough booties for the dogs!

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    • Lisbeth, do you know for a fact that Dallas uses Rimadyl in his kennel? And if he does, do you know of people in the ‘pet community’ who uses Rimadyl, say for dogs with an injury, after surgery or older in age? If you know dog-owners, I bet you do! After all, Rimadyl, whether you like it or not, is administered by veterinarians.

      Do you know for a fact Dallas uses Arnica? And if he does, are you suggesting using plants, herbs and essential oils is not desirable?

      Dallas is highly competitive obviously. His dogs have performed at the highest level. Optimal paw care is absolutely essential to high performance. Do you think there is much logic in Dallas choosing a method of paw care that is likely to be a risk in causing burns? I will admit I have never tried using a blow-torch to remove hair on myself or otherwise. And, regardless of what facts might be, I do certainly see how it at least can be perceived and thus described as not optimal for the dog… This is really what I get from reading you comment more than anything. You are just throwing one-liners out there to smear his name.

      What is wrong with horse meat? Do you have factual knowledge of his dogs suffering from ‘swarms of huge mosquitoes’? And although I agree wooden houses are better set-up than plastic drums, I also have to question whether your description of the barrels used being “gasoline drums,” is actually correct!?

      Dog booties. Goodness sake. Yes, I am shaking my head. Again, a musher that does not have paw care as highest priority, does not have a chance of performing well in this race. Dallas might be over-sharing in letting us know how he has had to wipe his butt, but you are definitely turning things on their head to fit into your agenda here. Maybe you simply do not realize what it takes of care and investment, time and love, to perform in this race!

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      • Mike: no doubt Lisbeth is kicking Dallas when he’s down. people aren’t much different than wolves. they’re all fans of the leader of the pack (or pretending to be) until the leader falls and then sometimes they rip him apart. that said, Dallas has said he uses both Arnica and Rimadyl. i sometimes use the latter, too. on dogs that is. most of us do. it is worth noting that as a with many drugs it can cause GI problems if used regularly, and people need to watch for those. http://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2006/october/rimadyl-controversy-6509

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      • Mike, there are Youtube videos of Dallas using a blow torch to remove fur on a dog’s foot. There’s a video about him giving his dogs horsemeat. Dogs have gotten sick from eating horse. There are questions regarding where and how the horses were killed and how their bodies were processed. Yes, people have given their dogs Rimadyl. But if it’s not done correctly, this drug kills.

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      • Lisbeth,
        A friend, who also ran Iditarod in 82, and I shared 1500lbs of horse cheeks as our main meat product for the race. That product was good enough for human consumption but we tried and were unable to get animal horse meat. I have to say the dogs loved it and it caused no problems. We cooked ours minimally, by the way, but I’ve never heard of dogs getting sick from horsemeat. What is your source??

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    • Since when do dogs get sick from horse meat? Any meat that is contaminated will make dogs sick but horse is excellent meat for dogs (unless you’re the horse of course). Dogs are carnivores; you’re not suggesting a vegan Iditarod are you?

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      • No, of course, I’m not suggesting a vegan Iditarod. I don’t know if it’s still the case today, but American horse slaughter facilities were shut down. Horse meat was imported from places like Mexico or Canada. As you would expect, some of the meat turned bad and made dogs sick.

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      • There are those trying to return horse slaughter to the US. Horse meat from a known source is good for dogs. As I said, any meat can go bad if mishandled. Commercial horse meat, unavailable in the US as far as I know, is suspect due to the possibility of contamination by drugs from slaughtered race horses, something that prompted the Quest to issue an advisory to mushers last year. Know your source!

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      • Gosh, Pete, first you question Here’s the thing: there have been no controls over what the horses are given, whether there is contamination in prosessing plants or whether their meat has been frozen and thawed once or repeatedly. All of these scenarios can contaminate meat and make dogs sick.

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    • Opioids were found in one dog team. The race will be slower if you have slower conditions. Most importantly snow on the ground will constitute slower conditions. Running the traditional southern, of if they have to the northern route, makes for different travel than what we saw in 2017. That teams are faster is a consequence of heightened competition, innovative and more extensive training (far removed from how teams were trained even 10 years ago) as well as constant improvement in equipment and efficiency on the trail. Not all mushers are able to compete, to train and prepare at this level. But those that can work very hard, and more hours than most can imagine to be able to do it. Whether the dogs doped were intentional by the musher in question or not, If you are insinuating that dog mushers and their fantastic dogs that are out there delivering incredible results are cheating or doing wrong across the board, it is insulting in my opinion. It would frankly speak to that you have no idea about what goes into delivering these results, for the magnificent Alaskan Huskies that do it, to perform at this level.

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      • Mike: there’s no doubt everything you have mentioned has contributed to faster races. but there is also no doubt that as the race gets faster the incentive to dope increases. i’ve spent my life in and around sports, and i know a bit about doping. given the Iditarods lack of out-of-competition testing, why wouldn’t mushers dope? if you’re trying to put 5,000 or 10,000 miles on a team in training, dogs are gonna breakdown. drugs can minimize the breakdowns. if this were any other elite-level endurance sport lacking out-of-competition testing – be it marathoning, cycling, horse racing, greyhound racing, camel racing, you name it – somebody would be doping. are we to believe dog mushers are somehow purer than the competitors in all other sports? i know mushers who i’m pretty sure aren’t doping (though one never knows), and i believe them because they mainly tell me they can’t put 5,000 miles on their dogs in training without a bunch of dogs ending up injured. hell, if there are people truly running 10,000 miles in training in their Iditarod build up (the equivalent of a Kusko 300 every week), you can make a good argument for the idea that it would be better for the dogs if they were doped. that’s the old Michele Ferrari argument. it is not a bad one.

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      • Craig: I do not know if Dallas is innocent or guilty. I do not pretend to know what a person is capable of, or motivated to do.

        Doping control should certainly be a significant part of this elite-level endurance sport. I was happy to realize that the doping program that is in place indeed works. As I read you pointed out elsewhere: it looks to be more sophisticated than what most probably expected. That is terrific. I believe that to be the optimal context for this sport. And, I believe a musher, as in other sports such as horse racing, should be held accountable for positive doping tests.

        No where did you see me state that the level of training that takes place amongst those top-competitive teams today is not demanding. On the contrary, I emphasize it takes an enormous effort by the musher in caring for the dogs to make them able to be healthy, and perform at this level.

        I don’t personally know of mushers that put on 10,000 miles on any one dog in training / Iditarod build up. Or any mushers that say they do.

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      • Mike: i don’t know of any doing 10,000 miles either. i’ve heard some say it. i don’t really believe it. but 5,000 seems to have become something of a norm. here’s Danny Seavey: . “When Dad runs the Iditarod,” he said, “he will have put in at least 5,000 miles behind the dog sled team this season.”http://blog.thewayfarers.com/iditarod-the-alaskan-legend-in-real-time-for-the-wayfarers/

        now maybe he means 5,000 miles behind multiple teams, but i heard a lot of people talking about how they need 3,000 to 5,000 miles “on the dogs,’ or more, if they’re going to be competitive. that’s a lot of miles if you figure on pretty much squeezing most if it into the six months between September (when it’s cool enough to star running) and February (when you probably want to start the pre-Iditarod taper). that’s a couple hundred miles per week on average, though you’d want to start with well less than that and build toward a peak in Feb. before starting a pre-race taper.
        i think we’re in agreement this incredibly demanding. obviously, it would help to have a crew to assist with the training.

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      • You’ve taken my comment and made it a claim against all sled dogs. I’m sure only those that are under pressure to perform would be using opioids. Also we have seen run/rest times change over the course of an Iditarod decade, Will these run/rest patterns that have been improving every year (dependent on snow conditions for speed, but run/rest is the true statistics) change this year. Would you have as much confidence to push your dogs early without the crutch of a drug? These are things we don’t know, but you’re right I’ve got no idea what goes into it, I’m off to feed my dogs now!
        Additionally we’ve seen the use of huge dog trailers come and go with no change I’m race dynamics. Lots of mushers falling behind in recent years attempting these innovations to keep up, I wonder why. Will these mushers all the sudden be more competitive again? #makedallasrace

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  3. LOOKS LIKE A DOPER OR A SMEAR CAMPAIGN, im going with the latter.

    I got to say that wether dallas is guilty , or completely innocent. –> regardless I think everyone can agree the trail committee should have made this information public, started legal criminal investigation around this. to find out WHO did the doping (whether its dallass or someone else), sooner, than later. they blundered here, they blundered with the ipod, with brent sass. in a way that looks like they were just trying to single out a young competitor and boot him from the competition.

    dallas had a HUGE petition, online, about rule changes. JUST LAST YEAR> challenged the very clubby old, overweight, business focused not dog focused, trail committee. they hate criticism…

    its like going into a restaturnt and telling them they need to serve the food better, you know. taking from greg heisters analogy of “which side of the aisle” greg heister” who is a huge PROFITEEER of iditarod, but not a musher. you can see when he interviews dallas, that people like him. and hooley. resent and dont respect dallass.

    partially probably because of his youth, and yeah sure. i think dallass might be a person with a background in human sports, got a chance to really specialize in the mushing sport. but –> being the fav son of mitch etc, he got a lot of sh*t given to him, and was really set well up for success. in relation to his peers, brothers. other young people in the sport and competitors. he didnt have to worry so much about the economic logisticial side of things. he was young, atheletic. was able to focus on dogs, training and racing. its a huge advantage.

    its like a rohn buser getting a good team from his dads kennel, while all the handlers over the years got to struggle and try to scrap together a team, and work etc, lots of jobs, to even make it to the starting line. and the economic hurdles being larger than anything for most of them, and those hurdles, keeping most of them, out of the competition more than anything. i think you can fairly say. same with mushers from the villages, over the last thirty years in the races evolution…. no where near the budget, support. someone like dallas. at that age.

    i was in a similar place, when i was younger. so the resentment i think, from the elder statesmen of iditarod. and even same age peers. is palatable, and real. and i think, frankly. its valid.

    but–> that dont mean hes guilty of doping dogs. that means they , itc , nordman, board, people who are runing this sport and that race into the ground with their mis management. (see @onedogclass) should have been A LOT more transparent right from the begingin re this.

    the way it was handled looks like a real calculated SMEAR campaign, or effort to hide a doper. either way–> trail committee is gulity in my opinion. in addition they are doing things , in terms of how they operate and are incorproated as a non profit. that are highly suspect and look criminal. and illegal. for their non profit status.

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    • i dont believe its tamper proof process either, and remember lance mackey is the one who did an interview this summer saying he used to spend 100k a year on drugs and women. another competitor could have done something or paid somone to do something. 4 dogs testing high–> looks supsicious to me. saturated things? looks susupicous to me. im not sure the dogs were drugged. it might have happened after.

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      • Dallas is a darling of the Iditarod. When Brent Sass was disqualified for breaking a rule, the outcry was just that: if it had been Dallas or one of the other darlings of the race, it would not have caused disqualification.

        Stan Hooley is the executive director. Not a board member. Nordman is also not a board member, he is race director and race marshal. Just for clarification.

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      • in response to mike, the staff report and work wiht the board to run the race. the staff and the board = itc. a non profit. when i refer to itc, i refer to both the staff and the board members.

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    • john, your speculation raises one big question: why would a “business focused” ITC, as you describe it, want to sabotage it’s brightest star? that’s bad business whether you absolutely hate the guy or love him. the sensible business decision for a Dallas hater in this case would be to swallow hard and try to coverup the name, wouldn’t it?
      the possibility of another musher or one of his/her posse, sabotaging Dallas actually seems more realistic, but prior to this, who thought the drug testing program more than a sham? i admit i thought it was a sham. it had never caught a doper. i never talked to a musher who thought the program real. i talked to some who went so far as to speculate the Iditarod collected the urine for show and later just threw it away.
      it’s now emerging that some drugs were detected in the past, and some mushers knew the program worked because there were talks with them about drugs that showed up in their dogs, but those talks were never publicly revealed.
      so, how many people do you think actually knew tramadol would be detected and believed that if it was found in Dallas Seavey’s dogs it would be publicly reported? and keep in mind the “believed” part there might be as important as the “knew” part.

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      • craig hooley, heister, you name it . and my last post already said it, but they dont like him. cuz someone else paid for the meal, and he is criticizing the restuatunt. and they work there. and are tired of it.

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      • i might also add : that they have been working there too long, to where there service at the metaphorical restautunt of iditarod. is not good enough.

        if you are doing things wrong at a business, people give constructive criticism. or if everyone at chucky cheese says they want to be able to do thing x (like have trailers for dogs), and you ignore it. and you own chucky cheese. you are alienating your customers, your clients. etc.

        hooley, nordman, chas, the board. the ITC: need an overhaul, need new people,

        it was true ten years ago, its truer now .

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  4. So let me get this straight: Dallas Seavey, winner of the Iditarod in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016; comes in second in 2017 with dogs that are rumored to need drugs in order to finish the last leg of the race. He is publicly identified as having dogs test positive for drugs, has unflattering pictures of his kennel posted on the internet, and has an ex-handler giving interviews about her perception of substandard conditions in his kennel and training program. So what does he do? He goes to China.

    So when the Mat-Su Animal Care people pay a visit to his kennel, they have to call ahead because there are no responsible adults living there on a regular basis. His wife has to drive from Talkeetna (their other kennel) to meet them. Dallas can’t afford traditional wooden houses for his dogs, antibiotics for oozing wounds on his dogs’ necks (these injuries actually look worse than they are), or quality kennel care for these dogs that could potentially provide him with a 5th championship. Yet he has plenty of cash to hire a PR firm from California to defend him from doping charges…uh…doping allegations that he’s not being charge or prosecuted for?

    How about taking the money and buying some good help for your kennels. How about staying home and caring for your dogs—or at least supervising those that train and take care of your dogs? How about showing us all what a great dog person you are by putting your time and resources into being a great dog person. That’s all anyone expects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jane u make great points here, but dallas is hardly alone. a great cross section of interviews of dog handlers would reveal that mushers like jonrowe buser etc, are similiarly distant at times in a way that is disconcerting.

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      • Are you kidding me? Excuse my naivety, but how can I take these comments serious after reading about the guy leaving 30 plus dogs without food and shelter in Yellowstone several years ago to the point of having his dogs taken away and adopted out ( yes I read his response, too) and actually having him commended by John Schandelmeier. Seems a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.IMO the others mentioned are great ambassadors for the sport in many different ways and have very capable handlers.

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  5. Jim. Let’s continue with your theory. I’ll admit I think it extremely unlikely, but we are pretty well down to your theory or Dallas-dope. Why do you believe that Mitch would carry Tramadol to Nome in his sled bag? He could ship them to Nome in his drop bag. Or have one of his crew bring them to Nome. He could not give them in Nome until his dogs were drug tested anyway. In his sled, they are an illegal drug. If he was caught carrying them he would be suspect. In Nome, after his dogs were tested, it would be okay to give Tramadol, if he chose.

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  6. With someone like Craig Medred putting out biased opinions, Dallas does probably need a PR firm. Really, your “expert” source is some guy who volunteers from Michigan? That’s like asking the guy who sweeps the garages at a NASCAR race if he thinks “Joe Blow” driver used a non complying engine part. I guess no one with credibility will talk with you Craig. Your work (on this topic) is tabloid fodder. Hey, were YOU in Nome by chance? I just solved the puzzle! Craig Medred doped Dallas’s dogs so he can write tabloid quality blogs on the topic. Brilliant! It’s sad & wrong how you callously armchair QB the Iditarod. A small group of dedicated people put on a very complex, highly scrutinized event & you sit at your desk & sling mud at them. Do you really think that they would put up with all the misguided, harsh, cruel comments from guys like you if they didn’t have the best interest of the race at heart? Is the ITC perfect, umm, NO, who is? Could the BOD use a shake up?, perhaps, but I, like most, am not informed enough to know. I don’t know how or what happened but I am not about to make malicious, outlandish comments & accusations with hearsay “evidence” & agenda driven or half baked theories. Lack of info does not justify unsound arguments, but it has in this case resulted in shameful “journalism”. BTW, James Hendrix, any person with knowledge of how the race works would know that a musher considering medicating dogs in Nome would not be carrying it with them. Ever heard of “drop bags”, handlers, or veterinarians? No theory makes less sense than yours.

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    • Dan: i generally like your analogy, but you didn’t get it quite right. this is like asking the guy who sweeps the garages at NASCAR what happened in the garages.
      and just to be clear, this isn’t about the ITC, which has done its job in this case and, to its credit, is trying to change the rules to ensure it can do that job better in the future. this is about a musher with a doped dog team. he might be innocent. he contends his dogs had tramadol in them because they were “most likely” drugged by someone in the Nome dog yard.
      obviously, that wasn’t done by the invisible man. if doping happened there, someone did it. thus one goes looking for witnesses who were in and around the dog yard when Seavey’s team was there. Mr. Dickinson, who was sweeping the garage, didn’t see anything. maybe others will come forward now to say they saw something.
      or maybe a police report will emerge.

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  7. Singer’s press release about Dallas claims that every musher is knowledgeable that Tramadol is easily detected. Part of the strategy is to implicate other mushers and help explain why Dallas knows so much about the drug.

    I wonder when Singer is going to start hiring “experts”
    in Seavey’s defense or investigators to find dirt on the laboratory that tested the urine sample. All this will cost the Seavey family lots of cash.

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    • every musher, Lisbeth? Dallas Seavey said early on in this he’d never heard of tramadol before ITC called to report it had been found in his dogs. how would he know whether a drug of which he is unaware is easily detectable, undetectable or somewhere between the two?

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      • The words “every musher” aren’t mine. They come from the Singer press release.
        I wish I could remember the exact source, but I recall reading that Dallas knows about giving dogs Tramadol.

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      • in the ADN story, Dallas said he believed Guinness – is former Golden Harness winner – was given tramadol after surgery to remove a tumor a couple years ago. he went on to say he didn’t know if the drug was ever administered or if it was still in his kennel. the reporter did not bother to ask how he reconciled that statement with earlier claims he’d never heard of tramadol. some of the reporting here has been pretty weak.

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      • Craig….you yourself referenced the ability of Dallas (or any other person ) to google and read up on something they had never before heard of (in this age of the internet)…hence his(DS) going on about the “half life” of tramadol or all the way down to the smallest of fractions that you educated us with. It did’nt surprise me that you felt the need to point out weak reporting. Maybe you should be asking the questions.

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      • Tim: i’ve tried. Dallas and his crew seem to be dodging me. i truly would like to know how he determined that magic half-hour when it is “most likely” his dogs were doped. i can guess how one might arrive at such a narrow window. that might, for instance, be the only time there wasn’t a member of Team Seavey with the dogs, but there could be other reasons leading to the conclusion. maybe Dallas has some lead on a saboteur that none of us know about. maybe he has the name of someone who was in or near the dog yard in this half hour when he or she shouldn’t have been.

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    • “just to be clear, this isn’t about the ITC, which has done its job in this case and, to its credit, is trying to change the rules to ensure it can do that job better in the future. this is about a musher with a doped dog team. ” Well Said.

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      • i really disagree i think the itc hosted the race, did the test, suppressed the results of the test from becoming public for six months, used a strange unqualified process with regard to communicating in a behind the scenes and not transparent way with the musher with positive tested dogs. this is hundred percent about the ITC, and their failures re this, are the tip of the iceberg, they have a history of corruption and mistakes that seem to be culiminating in this moment where top teams are almost routinely smeared and pulled from competition for things not race related. not dog related, not alaska related.

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      • John: First of all, I don’t know how you can disagree that this is about doping!? The issue here is a positive doping test. Then you can agree or disagree with how things have been handled, but that does not subtract from the fact that dogs tested positive for doping. Whether it was the musher or a different party that doped the dogs.

        Then, in regards to suppressing results etc. Dallas has known about the positive doping test on his dogs since at least April. Why has he not brought it to the public? Actually, why has he not shown outrage since that point, that someone tried to poison his dogs so to speak, if that is what happened? Between April and June it is not a matter of interpretation, he has not been held back by any Iditarod rules. He could have spoken freely about concerns and facts. He did not. Then one can question if anyone or any rule can really keep a musher, who thinks he is being sabotaged and his dogs health put at risk, from speaking! What was Dallas waiting for?

        Seriously, how are doped dogs in a top-competitors team “not dog related, not Alaska related”?

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      • Mike: and i’d hope no gag rule would stop any musher from filing a police report. that is the first thing i would do if notified someone had given my dogs drugs that, according to Dallas, “can cause seizures.” i would view such action as an attempt to harm my dogs.

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  8. But James, if that were the case, why wouldn’t Mitch just say it? There is nothing illegal about Mitch carrying tramadol treats to give to dogs for pain relief after the race, so if he dropped them by accident along the trail, I don’t see admitting to it would sully the “good” name of the Seavey’s. Especially because there was no penalty anyway. In fact, this would be an explanation that the public would accept, and that would allow everyone to move on.

    And remember, Dallas also said he’d never even heard of tramadol before the Iditarod drug test. So if Mitch was carrying tramadol “treats” and Mitch probably taught Dallas most of what he knows about mushing, that makes you wonder… why would Dallas lie about his familiarity with the drug?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just had my first (ever) pup spayed.
      The vet prescribed tramadol.

      How an owner of >50 dogs could go not be familar with tramadol is a hard pill to swallow, even if dipped in lamb fat.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am left to wonder why a musher would even carry Tramadol treats in their sled bag? There are vets at checkpoints and if Mitch was going to disperse such treats in Nome, it would make more sense to ship them there. As far as Dallas never having heard of Tramadol, I would call total bullshit on that.

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  9. James, Take a course in critical thinking. Your theory is highly implausible. Far more likely that Dallas doped his own dogs, either for advantage or to help them rest. You seem to have a vested interest in believing otherwise. I have nothing against Dallas, but I am also a fan of logic.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Was coaching on the trail a thing this year?
    Completely different note: I believe Dallas is guilty, but I don’t really care and I would rather see the race change from this speed based obsession to something healthier. Don’t punish the dog (in this case Dallas) for bad behavior, figure out why they are doing it because…”it’s never the dogs fault”

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  11. From what we know it was executive directors that decided not to announce a positive drug test to the public and hold Dallas Seavey responsible for positive doping tests in his dogs. Dallas has said so much, and that he thought nothing would come of it. It was the board that implemented some transparency and announced the positive test, as reason for changing the rule. The board limited the transparency. For one the board refused to release the name of the musher — obviously to protect the musher. Regardless, Dallas Seavey seems to interpret the fact that the board acted to protect the integrity of the race, as a level of conspiracy against him. His name was released because large group of Iditarod mushers made the demand that the board do so and otherwise threatened with collective action. The board consequently decided to meet the demand of the group of Iditarod mushers, naming Dallas Seavey as the musher with dogs that had positive doping tests. Dallas Seavey immediately countered accusing the board and board members of conspiracy and wrongdoing. Wrongdoing brought forth not only related to this current matter, but tapped into resentment amongst the large group of mushers on many other matters. Successfully it has focused attention on the board as the problem, and not the matter of positive doping tests and the lack of consequence and transparency starting in March / April, before it was a matter known to the board. It is now the board that face attacks of wrongdoing. It is board members, who pushed for action, that face being ousted by the Iditarod community. The forceful community of mushers et al making calls for resignation. It is not about cleaning out whoever or however these dogs were doped that is at the top of the community agenda. It has successfully been shifted to instead focus on how to clean out the board.

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  12. Quiet dog lot. No one around it. Dog lot worker Dickinson discounts sabotage. More and more this plays into my theory, that it was an accidental doping.

    As I posted before: Mitch is carrying tramadol treats for his dogs to legally give them after the race and right after the blood test. But he accidentally drops the bag of tram-treats on the trail before Nome. Snowmobile traffic rips open the bag and spreads the tram-treats on the trail. Dallas comes along and 4 of his dogs snap up a tram-treat. Dallas doesn’t notice because he is looking backwards at Petit who is coming for him. Dallas figured out this scenario long ago. But then the cat got out of the bag, he is not going to blame his father. And his father is not going to make the Seavey clan look bad. So on to a smoke screen and blaming everyone else to take the focus off the Seaveys.

    No theory makes more sense than this one.

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    • James: i agree with you that an accident – an idea Dallas dismisses – is the most likely explanation for this if Dallas didn’t do it. someone on the Dallas team giving the dogs tramadol in Nome because he or she was unaware of the 6-hour wait before the urine test or forgot about it seems wholly plausible. but i’d doubt it was Mitch.
      and it makes no sense for Mitch to be carrying tramadol treats on the trail. he’d simply ship them to Nome if he was going to medicate the dogs there.
      i also doubt he’d bother with treats. anyone who spends as much time around dogs as Mitch has ought to be good at giving meds. you stuff it deep in their throat; you hold their muzzle shut; you stroke their throat; they swallow. it’s not hard.
      and it ensures the dog gets the med in the proper dose. putting meds in “treats” is often a gamble. some dogs are a lot better than one might think at finding and avoiding hidden pills.

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      • I so agree with you! It has been my opinion from the beginning that Dallas did not personally give the meds, but by accident, someone on his team did. That “someone” on his team probably lied to him and Dallas came out swinging, Hence he has made a mountain out of a mole hill. Man up Dallas and admit this is a possibility and move on. Your “good name” would be much more respected.

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      • Tracy: why would someone on Dallas’s team lie to him? they must all understand how this works, and that “accident” is the best explanation for all parties. if an accident happened, i can’t see anyone being held responsible for anything. accidents happen. people are human. somebody didn’t know about the scheduled six hour delay and gave the drug. Dallas wasn’t punished by ITC anyway. no harm. no foul. no reason at all for anyone on Dallas’s team to lie about giving the drug.
        but hasn’t Dallas himself kind of slammed the door on the accident theory now that he’s stated tramadol isn’t used in his kennel, that arnica is their pain killer and anti-inflammatory of choice even though it doesn’t seem to work all that well: https://www.painscience.com/articles/arnica.php
        i find it hard to believe a member of the Seavey team would show up in Nome with their own tramadol to give the dogs. i guess that’s not impossible. i guess there could have a well meaning handler who decided the dogs really were in need of something more effective than arnica and gave them tramadol. but it seems a huge stretch.

        Like

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