‘Prove it:’ Dallas Seavey demands dogs’ drug-test results from Iditarod
Dallas Seavey told KTVA on Tuesday that he wants to see the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s proof that his dogs were doped this year, the latest development in a saga which has seen the four-time champion decide not to run the Iditarod this year.
In a wide-ranging interview, Seavey said the Iditarod Trail Committee’s board of directors owes him an apology and full exoneration.
Seavey, who has called for the ITC’s board to be replaced over the controversy, challenged the body to release more information to “prove to us that this wasn’t personal.”
“Somebody decided to say that I had a positive test; I think I deserve to know who, and with what information,” Seavey said. “If you’re going to make this claim, I put it on you to prove it. Show me a positive test, show me the proof.”
Back in October, officials publicly outed Seavey as the musher whose dogs tested positive for Tramadol, an opioid pain reliever.
That test came shortly after he completed last year’s race, placing second behind his father Mitch.
Four animals came up with the drug in their systems. Seavey has repeatedly denied the claim, saying his team was sabotaged.
On Tuesday, he said he’s only received a three-paragraph Microsoft Word file from the ITC explaining what happened.
"We’ve got some documents, but it’s not what we need,” Seavey said. “It’s a small portion that’s very specific to Tramadol that could have been any dog, not just from the Iditarod – who knows? I don’t even know whose urine we’re looking at; it could be ours, I don’t know. So how do we figure out the puzzle if they won’t give us the pieces, and the next question is why won’t they give us the pieces?”
The ITC, however, held on to the test result until the fall. Shortly after the test became public, Iditarod CEO Stan Hooley said he had a hard time imagining a logical explanation.
"I have sat in this office at the end of the day over the last few months a number of times, and the prevailing thought is that it's illogical that someone would intentionally drug their dogs this close to the finish line when we know that a mandatory -- not a random -- drug test awaits that team in Nome,” Hooley said. “Do I know what happened? No. But that's the thought that wanders around in my head."
Against that, Hooley said, he had a positive drug test for Seavey’s dogs sitting on his desk staring right back at him – a troubling result which left his hands tied.
"All we can deal with is the facts: We know we had our first positive test,” Hooley said. “Obviously, Dallas has denied he had anything to do with it, and when you look at it from a practical standpoint, it's a bit illogical that someone in that position -- within a few hours, knowing that their team was going to be tested – would actually intentionally administer that drug. So, I think everyone should consider that."
Hooley called it one of the most difficult times in the race’s history.
On Tuesday, Seavey also took umbrage with the ITC’s 2016 decisions to allow two-way communications devices but ban the carriage of dogs in towed trailers – an issue close to Seavey’s heart, after his previous use of trailers to let dogs recover their strength en route to Nome.
“A question that keeps coming up is, ‘Who made these decisions? Who decided this?’” Seavey said. “I keep getting run around and nobody says, 'Oh, I made the call.' I keep hearing most notably (ITC president) Andy Baker’s name; there is a small group that seems to run the ship and they make calls somewhat unilaterally, apparently, and I do think there are some personal vendettas perhaps in there."
Tuesday afternoon, the Iditarod Trail Committee released the following statement:
The Iditarod Trail Committee has been and continues to respond to Dallas’ queries as they have come in regarding his team’s urine drug test reports and has been providing the requested information as quickly as possible. The ITC, along with key partners, have been working on Dallas’ most recent request, received on Dec. 12, that is nearly finalized and will be shared with Dallas upon completion.
The ITC wants to re-emphasize that it does not place blame on Dallas Seavey regarding the positive urine drug test results in the canine team and will continue to not speculate on the circumstances surrounding the positive drug test of his four dogs. The ITC supports not only the canine athletes, but the mushers who are a part of this race, and thanks the community for its dedication and passion for the Iditarod.
Seavey was eligible to race in 2018 but withdrew. Instead, he’ll take his talents to the roughly 750-mile Finnmarkslopet in Norway, Europe’s answer to the long-distance races of North America.
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