A new sight at this year's Iditarod: Security cameras
There’s a new addition to this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
After a dog doping scandal embroiled the race for months, the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) is playing defense with offense by installing security cameras in the dog lots.
Security was the big topic of discussion among the ITC during the offseason after it was revealed that four of Dallas Seavey's dogs tested positive for the pain reliever Tramadol. Seavey denies the accusations and has claimed he was sabotaged.
So, here in Takotna, dogs and mushers alike are being watched.
“I think the mushers wanted to have more of a presence," said Mark Nordman, Iditarod race director
Takotna won’t be the only checkpoint where the cameras will be located. It’s also unknown if the cameras will be this out in the open.
"You know, we’re not like a hockey arena or a football stadium where you can have eyes on everything," Nordman said. "We are in rural Alaska and you can only do so much. I think it’s a good faith effort to try and improve safety precautions”
But this process has its detractors. Three-time champion Mitch Seavey, father of Dallas Seavey, says it’s unrealistic to expect anything incriminating to ever come from the cameras.
"Nothing from that camera is going to be conclusive," said Mitch. "Nobody is going to show a label to a camera and go give it to somebody else’s dog, for example, or tamper with something. It will be an indication but it’s better than nothing."
For years, one of the hallmarks of the Last Great Race has been wide open public access. But things have tightened.
For the first time in our years of covering the race, reporters were challenged to show media credentials.
There has been a noticeably larger security presence at this year's race but the ITC admits that cameras and more security personnel is the first step in protecting the race and rebuilding its reputation.
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