go fundOnly three days after going online to plead for help, four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Lance Mackey has the $10,000 he says he needs to go to rehab.

An iconic member of the Iditarod fraternity, the 50-year-old musher found himself this year outed by an Iditarod drug test that discovered he’d become a meth head. Well known as a significant consumer of marijuana and alcohol, Mackey used the news of the positive test for methamphetamine to confess he has a drug problem.

Not long after doing that, he turned to GoFundMe to raise the funds the “Mackey Family” said would be used to help him get clean.

An appeal apparently written by wife Jenne, said “we’re making arrangements for him to be in a program for at least 30 days, starting within the next several weeks, during which time the kennel will still need to run, dogs and handlers be cared for, and Jenne and kids have expenses covered.

“We never like to ask for help like this, but we just aren’t in the position to do any different, and the smallest amounts help immensely. Lance has been strong, kind, giving for so many years, even while often battling his own demons. We are so grateful for all those who wish to help him and our family out now, during this crucial time.”

Both mushing fans and mushers rallied to support the Fairbanks musher. Former competitor Mitch Seavey from Sterling, another Iditarod champ, chipped in $100, as did Brent Sass, an Iditarod veteran and former winner of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.

Mackey finished 21st in this year’s race and collected the $1,049 prize given all the also-rans. He was, however, forced to forfeit both the money and his finishing position after his urine test came back positive for meth.

“While this is a very unfortunate event, we hope this disqualification will be a turning point in spurring Lance on the trail to recovery,” Iditarod Board President Mike Mills later said in a carefully worded written statement. “The health of Lance is our top priority. He is one of our Iditarod heroes who is going through a tough time in his life. Most of us have been touched by addiction in some way, and we realize how painful it can be on friends and family and how very difficult addiction can be to overcome.”

The Iditarod has not said whether Mackey will be allowed back if he chooses to race next year. Mills’ name did not appear among the dozens of Mackey contributors on GoFundMe, but there were many anonymous donations.

Most of the contributions appeared be $20 to $200 contributions from longtime Iditarod fans.



35 replies »

  1. DPR you assume the high ground where you are uninformed. Unless you are another Iditarod champion, incognito, and I’m sure you aren’t, don’t pontificate on these topics. A set-up or accidental positive in dogs (Dallas) is entirely different than a personal drug problem (Lance). My friend Lance is fighting for his life rn so ease up a little. Look inward man. We don’t need to hate.

    • Hi Mitch. Hope you and your family are doing well in these strange and troubling times. Harm and I always watch you on the Iditarod Insider and send as much positive vibes your way as we can. I haven’t seen you guys in years but I still feel connected.

      A bit of clarification on your point, if you don’t mind: are you really suggesting that someone has to be an Iditarod champion to have an opinion on Lance Mackey’s chronic, life long drug use both IN competition as well as outside of it?

    • Mr. Seavey, Me thinks you protest to much .Yes i know little of mushing and could use education in that area . That said , There is no evidence Dallas Seaveys positive drug test was a set up or accidental. There is evidence it would still be hidden if someone hadn’t leaked his positve to the world. Therin lies the similarities to mackey. A corrupt process. Not to mention it could be said they both have an addiction to winning and that drove them to use drugs to accomplish a goal. Present your proof of Dallas innocence for review for all to see. Proove me wrong. The facts remain, his dogs tested positive. He broke the rules. He chose not to defend his titles after being busted. Why ? Could he not win without dope ? I also think you are wasting your kindness or protection on a documented criminal. Lance mackey. Are there not more worthy causes ? Oh I forgot your son is a documented dog doper. you are used to sticking up for cheaters and criminals. Im using kid gloves on you. Weve been told you have your own dirty secrets . Perhaps concerning Animals.Though thats just hearsay and not my concern though it has tarnished the image of the last great race. An Alaskan icon . Who your friends are reflcts on your own character. Is lance Mackey a worthy friend? Or is he Freind in loose name only ? We wont look at the fact most of your wins are in tandem with Dallas and yove been unable to win since Dallas tested positive. Interesting. Though not worthy of supposition. Right ? Now id like to bury the Hatchet . Please tell me something about Alaska that’s interesting. I despise talking about criminals and dopers . Surely you must have a tale of the trail to share ? Oddly im a fan .

      • It is impossible to prove a negative, re Dallas. One doesn’t abandon friends regardless of circumstances re Lance. If you are a fan, please find something useful to do.

      • I feel like this comments section has some real potential to turn into a full on flame war. I don’t know Dallas very well but I’ve long been a friend of the Seavey family and Mitch in particular. You raise points worth considering and maybe even discussing, but hopefully the conversation can continue a bit more respectfully.

      • DPR,
        You raise many valid points…
        Especially: “Not to mention it could be said they both have an addiction to winning and that drove them to use drugs to accomplish a goal.”
        I remember when one of the “back of the packers” was tossed out for using Cannabis several years ago (even though he had a prescription for it)?
        There does seem to be many discrepancies in how the “rules” are applied to each individual and yes; the witnessed animal abuse allegations, the positive drug tests and criminal behavior in private life greatly destroys the positive achievements of others in the sport.
        I just heard a “Freakonomics” episode that basically said, bad experiences out weigh the good ones 4:1, which is why humans tend to dwell on the bad why overlooking the good.
        Iditarod aside, the way to preserve mushing in Alaska is to develop a new community paradigm that focuses less on corporate sponsored racing and more of a return to the basics.

      • Mitchel B. Seavey, please do explain how its imposible to proove a negative? Scientifically speaking your are incorrect and just repeating a talking point falsehood for the intellectually inept which you are not. I would say there are multiple methods to “prove” a negative. Timing of application of said drug , reliability of test, videos, prior negative tests, witness testimony, testing of feed products, on and on . That said I truly dont blame you for sticking up for your son. Who wouldn’t? Also nice of you for sticking up for lance even though hes a verified criminal. ( as is his family- rape, theft , drugs, prison ect) It really serves little purpose to overly protect lance as hes a grown man and long since should have changed his ways . Enabling him or condoning his actions just sets him back and sets society back as well . Hes a poor example of responsibility. You on the other hand are respected and would never follow lances path even for the holy grail of 6 wins . Anyway if you feel the need to stand up for those who trespass against society we are all ears. Perhaps you can reset history. Its quite odd coming from a brutally factual analytical person as yourself. You are right in concept though. No one should ever abandon a Freind in need. The question is what are the needs ? Perhaps brutal self assessment? After an illegal path since childhood? Your turn.

    • Mitch,
      Im always amazed how many people cant get off the horse that brought them here.
      Dying is easy, its living thats hard.I suspect the meth has been going on for a while.
      I saw an interview he did not to far back,I thought his demeanor was a bit strange at the time.Now the pieces fit, its hard to get off the road to hell.
      He’s (they)are going to need all the support you can give.VERY hard to change a life long lifestyle.I think thats the most positive way to state it

    • @Mitch. So you were not interested in a conversation, then. It’s been a few days since I asked you (quite reasonably) for some clarification on your statement. You suggest that only Iditarod champions have a right to an opinion here and when challenged on that you have no response. I mean this respectfully so don’t take it the wrong way, but flatly put: you are wrong. I would go so far as to say that champions probably should tread very carefully on this and similar topics. As far as your sympathy for you good friend Lance’s life struggles go, that’s great an all and I agree that he should get help, but that doesn’t excuse him from the pain and suffering he’s caused for almost five decades of lawless behavior and drug/alcohol addiction. These WERE NOT VICTIMLESS CRIMES, either IN competition or OUT of it. A man of your experience and world view point knows that better than most. You might want to consider that sticking up for someone who’s past is as sordid as Lance’s, especially a fellow multi time champion, could wind up tarred with the same brush.

      At best taking Lance’s side has the appearance of “the exclusive champions club sticking up for each other.” I don’t want to go into what “at worst” it may appear like.

      Like I said earlier: I consider you something of a friend and have the greatest respect for you, so I hope you consider my words in that light.

  2. The fact that Mackey has been on drugs since forever and arguably benefited greatly from them in competition is no surprise at all. And all the people throwing money at him and indulging the typical junky “pity angle” at one level or the other are just a collection of enablers.

  3. “Go fund me” has been the “bailout fund” for mushers in Alaska for years…
    I am all for Lance getting clean, but rehab does not work…you could ask Kurt Cobain or Layne Staley if they were still alive.
    “Cold Turkey” is the way to go if you can handle it.
    Pack up your backpack and head out on the trail for a week or two on your own, but this approach is not glamorous for most.

    • Steve, what mushers use go fund me as bailout? Enlighten us . Also i must ask why you think cold turkey works better than rehab ? Have you tried it ? Dont strong drugs and Alcohol often cause death when people go cold turkey? Whats the science say ? I believe hospitals wean overdose patients off carefully as possible. Whats the stats for cold turkey deaths? At a certain point drug addiction goes beyond mental and the body actually requires the drug to function right? Creating physical addiction that cant be undone by fast cold turkey or mental means alone ?? Doesn’t professional rehab create mental coping mechanisms to reduce drug reliance and reduce chances of relapse? That said I agree with you its hard to beat a trip into nature or heavy excerise to reground a person.

      • Medical rehab providers must wean alcohol dependent patients carefully to reduce the risk of death. Each drugs has it’s own risks and the specific process depends upon a number of variables. That’s why rehab should be guided by medical professionals and particularly NOT Doctor Google.

      • DPR,
        Rehab does not work in the long run for most people.
        There are a ton of reasons for this but the main reason is “rehab” substitutes street drugs with pharmaceutical therapies.
        Many “patients” come out of rehab with a pocket full of pills and doctors say they are “cured”.
        I saw plenty of failed rehab cases in my career as a paramedic with Heroin addicts.
        Myself, I decided to stop drinking Alcohol years ago and would hike and camp in the backcountry when the stressors came around.
        “Cold Turkey” has also been my favorite John Lennon song…maybe because it was not done with the Beatles or maybe because it is the only way to really cure a bad addiction.
        “John Lennon quit cold turkey because he wanted to get off drugs and start a family with Yoko (who also quit with him). He wrote this song about that experience…
        Lennon wanted to record this with The Beatles for their Abbey Road album, but the other Beatles rejected it.
        Lennon recorded it with a group of musicians he called The Plastic Ono Band and released it as a single. It was not available on an album.”

      • Steve , thanks for insite . Medically I disagree with you but instinctualy I suspect you are right . A person cant change regardless of rehab unless its their full decision. If they survive cold turkey then they are one more step to success. I bet youve seen a lot of tough casses.

  4. Rehab works I’ve personally put together 25 years of sobriety.i lost the respect of the ski racing community way too old to compete now but I do share my story to the at risk youth love wins all and good luck to lance

  5. I’ve been a big fan of Mackey in the past. At one time he had overcome poverty and demons to achieve great success. But this changes everything. Lance should be banned from dog mushing races for life. Sled dog racing is the celebration of the athleticism, love and care of canine athletes. But Lance knowingly compromised the care of his dogs. Meth heads can’t take care of themselves, much less the dogs that rely on them for their care. It’s ok for people to help Lance out. But it is not ok for him to ever be seen standing on sled runners in the Iditarod again. Lance put himself and his ego before the care of his dogs. Disgusting dirt bag.

    • Where is your evidence of compromised care? There is nothing i the allegation to that effect.

      “What might could maybe happen” is not sufficient grounds for a permanent ban if, in fact, it did not.

      • Mathew, I totally agree . A person may even guess it enhanced Mackeys performance helping him do an even better job similar to how world war 2 pilots and soldiers were given nearly the same drug to function at their top level as soldiers. Kept them awake alive and “successful”. Still what he did by testing positive broke the rules . He should be punished severely. Especially as it sets a bad precedent relating to ethics and sport not to mention its a dangerous drug. It’s interesting. The last two four time champs have drug violations. Dallas and Lance . Anyone see a pattern? Similar to other sports? We only know of these two violations because they were leaked. Which begs the question- who else and how many have tested positive and got away with it or endured a slap on the wrist? Both Dallas and Lance knew a drug test was coming up . What prior experience made them think they could get away with doping? Had they done it before? How many times ? Before it was leaked? To risk their careers they must have thought they could dope freely. It also begs the question – would a main sponsor such as qrill who sponsors the race and Dallas , Thomas waerner, Joar ulsom and others allow such an accusation to leak if say Thomas Waerner Tested positive? I suggest at a minimum there is conflict of interest when 100s of thousands of dollars are involved. Would there not be favoritism within the board and organization to keep 100% silent? I see major ethics violations. High probability of conflict of interest and fairness at hand . There are probably others.

      • There has been no evidence of compromised dog care presented to the public thus far, and I suspect that Mr. Mackey’s veterinary book was scrutinized more thoroughly that that of any musher before him. Several scientific studies have found that recovery rates of methamphetamine abusers are on par with those of other drugs of abuse, including opioids and cocaine.

        Major sports with anti-doping protocols include provisions for returning to competition and the U.S.D.O.T. includes provisions for those who test positive to return to work in safety sensitive positions.

        That said, my personal opinion is that so long as there is no evidence of neglect or harm to his dogs, Mackey’s return to the race should include provisions for pre-race, mid-race and post-race drug testing. Less expensive saliva tests should be sufficient for this purpose.

        Behaviorists define punishment as consequences of a behavior that makes the subject less likely to repeat the behavior in the future. A lifetime ban is, in my opinion, more likely to result in Mackey returning to the drug rather than abstaining, just the opposite of punishment.

      • DPR, forgive me if I take exception to your pilot/soldier/Mackey drug comparison. Those were somewhat different circumstances and the full extent of addiction at the time and how harmful those drugs could be was not properly understood. At the end of the war, there was very little help offered for people who became addicted. Today we have a better understanding along with the side effects.
        I hope Mackey gets help. My understanding is he has been on drugs most of his life for whatever reason or another. Personally, I have zero tolerance for drugs.

      • Bryan. Thank you for showing a different view. What you probably miss is that current passenger airline pilots can get prescription drugs to help them do their job . A legal meth type drug . When they must stay awake and fully functional on long flights. According to the doctor I spoke with these drugs are very similar to meth . Adderol type drugs for concentration. Im hoping someone with more knowledge can step in and more accurately clarify my statement. Athletes also get prescriptions for meth like drugs to stay focused and sharp . Think about simone biles our champion gymnast. She uses adderol and similar drugs. Theres a high likelihood various mushers use meth like or adderol type drugs to stay functional during competition as they just need a maleable doctor who provides a prescription. Doc im constantly falling asleep while driving- its so dangerous please give me something to stay awake . Im unable to focus ect . So if you have a 100% zero tolerance for drugs you will be eliminating a wide spectrum of the populace . Btw . Like i said – mackey should be harshly punished and if justice was served probably banned for a few years. In sport imo there is no place for performance enhancing drugs . Even prescription as those will be abused. Im told Iditarod has a therapeutic use exemption form that allows doctor prescribed drugs. Unless its a life saving drug like antibiotics or similar.

      • DPR, sorry, meant zero tolerance for illegal drugs. I have been in the Commercial/Corporate aviation industry for many years. Maybe I am missing something but, I know of no “Aderol” or any type of “speed” that is prescribed to airline pilots or any other commercial rated pilot for that matter. You do understand that pilots can only fly a certain amount of hours in a day and that on long flights there are 2 full crews onboard for crew rest?

      • DPR/Bryan,
        The drugs DPR is talking about are amphetamines, similar in structure as meth, while not being meth. They produce a similar euphoric high and allow for a higher concentration rate for those who abuse and or do not need them, however when used in the correct dosage for the correct person they allow them to concentrate. Ideally these drugs are for a few misbehaving children with add or adhd, but in our over prescribed nation and world doctors have opened the floodgates and allowed any parent to feed their children amphetamines to control their behavior instead of being an actual parent. Withdrawing from these lowish dose amphetamines for a young child who has spent their formative years being a drug addict has often resulted in disastrous results, most if not all of the school age mass shooters are youngmen who have recently stopped taking these amphetamines cold turkey. Their brains never formed correctly and they had a near lifelong addiction to doctor prescribed amphetamines, without the drug their brain was accustomed to they snapped.

      • Brian, good discussion. What luck im talking to a aviation specialist. So look up pilot medical solutions inc. for FAA accepted medications . The site clarifies adults as easy to prescribe for ADD disorders . Youth not so much . An abridged list of Meth type drugs allowed by aviation industry are methylphenidate, methyl-in, dextroamphetamine, dexmethylphenidate – adderol, ritalin ect . Yes I understand pilots have alternate personnel to alliavate sleep deprivation. Even to this day certain military give out drugs to enhance performance regardless of addiction dangers. I understand not all pilots use these drugs but there is known record of prescription abuse to get around laws . Btw I totally respect your industry and have many close Freinds and relatves who are licensed pilots and or hold Airplane power plant mechanics license. From instructors to head commercial pilots. An honorable profession and I appreciate your insight . I have an especially good Freind who is a head FAA inspector . I love flying but hate landing. ; – )

      • Gents, I am familiar with the air force prescribing amphetamines to certain pilots for certain missions. B2 run from MO to Baghdad and back comes to mind. Completely different animal compared to Commercial Airline pilots. As far as I know, the FAA does not sanction such medications. Oh, the lawsuits. Now, of course there are certain medications acceptable to the FAA for certain pilot privileges. But, I don’t think active amphetamine usage is one of them for airline pilots or any pilot I am aware of. If you are taking any of those psychedelic meds you would have to get approval from a flight surgeon followed by the FAA. They frown upon any present or past usage. Although, exceptions are made of course to certain prescribed drugs. As Steve-O says we have generations hooked on ADD drugs and there is a shortage of pilots.

      • I find it hard to believe that the using of any mind altering drug, prescribed or not would ever be allowed in civilian aviation, commercial or private. You might get away with it, but it’s against the law to even do it in your personal vehicle driving down a simple road.

        To do it in the trucking industry would get you jail time, loss of license, and loss of a career. With government random drug test, or just the chance of being caught because you decided to take some mind concentrating dope to only find your dumbass sitting at a scale house over concentrating of how to simply roll across the scales to then only drive your rig into the weigh station shack, with plenty of DOT witnesses inside. (True story, some ex-driver did it at the Huntington Oregon weigh station)

        With all that said, I have heard of the same regulations being applied to the aviation industry. Prescribed or not it is not allowed if it produces a failed drug test. Had a friend that flew commercial airliners and he said they even boot you out from flying commercial at a certain age too.

        If all those people like the Pilot, the athlete, or whatever are gaining advantages over others by using any drugs, then yes go across the board and out em. Sounds like our society is real good at rationalizing excuses, so as to not tip the boat. How about allowing the guy or gal that does incredible things without needing a crutch/drug to be able shine, and stop rewarding cheaters, which in return gives a wink and nod to the up and coming that it’s ok behavior.

        Of course when you have a society of 20 year olds chugging down Red Bulls, because they just don’t have the energy at that age, we got a problem. I don’t even need that toxic crap at my age, and I definitely didn’t need it back in my 20’s…

    • James, your comments are all tangible in respect of an individual, be that Lance or others, who use drugs as part of their mushing strategy, be that performance enhancing in the human or dogs, or for other reasons. Drug use in sport is mostly banned for good reasons and every effort should be implemented to discourage even consideration of drug use. Drug use in sport when it affects humans only, is bad enough, when it also compromises the fairness and ethics as far as the animals, in this case dogs, goes, it makes drug use in sport even more unacceptable. Iditarod & sleddog sports collectively needs to take a stronger stand against this, or it will continue and anyone clearly found to be engaged in illegal or performance enhancing drug use, be it in the dogs or the musher, should be eradicated from the sport with all due fanfare as to why.

      That all said, calling Lance a “disgusting dirt bag” is disingenuous in the extreme. Peoples motivations and reasons for substance abuse are wide and varied and it is neither for me nor you to judge that. Lance as an i individual and as a human being, deserves more respect than you allow and such a comment undermines the core of your comment.

      We can strive to see a drug free Iditarod and other sleddog sports, and, maintain some dignity and respect at the same time. A polite redaction on your part as far as that comment goes, would go further to lend credibility to your comments.

      I for one wish Lance and his family the very best in dealing with their current problems. If anyone can, Lance can.

      Dave King

      • Dave , what you said makes sense except lance has a long legally documented rap sheet and qualifies as a dirt bag . Lance is not a person to hold up as example for tge youth in our society. Hes a prooven dirt bag . Forgery, Dwi, theft , and now federal violation of drug laws . Meth user . Hes a damn criminal dirt bag and menace to society. He deserves no protection. He makes Alaskans look Bad . Truly Bad and should not be deified or held up on high in any wAy . Ive heard from very reliable sources he gives drugs and Alchohol to minors. He deserves prison . Hes a dirt bag .

      • DPR, if you have a genuine interest in dog mushing, a cleaner sport, a better Iditarod, then contrive something positive to that end. Having a view that supports a zero tolerance for drug abuse is something I support and would call for the highest penalties to be awarded those who choose to breath rules and solid ethics.

        Denigrating someone who is clearly undergoing yet more physical and mental challenges in life, that probably falls in the “dirt bag” category just as firmly as you wish to cast a person who has proven to be a better musher than many who have gone before, who are current and without some changes, will perhaps follow.

        Others here also commented that Lance, in his tenure as a Iditarod musher, has a proven track record of exemplary dog care, something I have witnessed and something that would be sustained by a slew of vets and other fist hand observers. Dog care under the influence ? Different argument, different place.

        Sadly, we live in a World where it ain`t all roses and we all have our burdens to bear in whatever ways we do. You state that Lance “makes Alaskans look bad” and perhaps some myopically minded individuals might see it that way. I`d say that people, with limited knowledge who draw conclusions and who make statements lacking in compassion, make the commentator look even worse.

        You may not like Lance, what he may or may not have done…and he has made his own statements on that…but have a little more dignity eh. Perhaps it is your own demons leading you to your rhetoric ? If that is the case, good luck with that and hopefully others may not treat you with the disdain you direct at Lance.

        Some (allegedly) perfectly “clean” mushers out there, who do not take such good care of their dogs. Perhaps a little more focus on how that all works, might have broader benefits !

      • Dave king , there are no demons for me . Just clean analysis and knowledge. Lance mackey broke state law and the race rules . Its clear hes a dirt bag . Now proove me wrong or put your sanctimonious garbage where the sun doesn’t shine. Did he or did he not put meth, cocaine ect in his own body ? He is known to give drugs and offer alcohol to minors . + DWi . By society’s expectations and laws mackey is a menace to society. A dirt bag . Compassion you say ! Compassion! How about some compassion for the people he effected in sour manner. Dwi , forgery, drugs to minors, theft, drugging in races Created a line of possible victims. Who may i ask was making decisions for Mr Mackey when he chose to take all those paths ?? Its pretty darn clear hes a dirt bag . As to credibility of comments you say . If i was to temper my comments and show a false picture it would be a lie. Its real life not a fiction novel. Stating the facts is true compassion. Now as to me showing compassion? Well there are many wYs to show compassion. I have massive compassion for those he criminally took advantage of . Believe it or not i even have compassion for lance mackey. When he cleans his act up and gives restitution to everyone he stole from or took advantage of I will truly show compassion. Until then you reap what you sow .

    • I have massive problems with Mackey’s drug use going back for years and I suspect that we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg on that…but I’m not sure the case can be made that he’s failing to take care of his dog’s on the trail. From everything I’m hearing now and what I’ve personally witnessed in previous years on the trail with him is that the man loves his dog’s and cares for them at the highest levels.

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