Iditarod CEO calls doping scandal 'illogical'
Iditarod CEO, Stan Hooley, sat down with KTVA Sports Wednesday afternoon to discuss the recent doping scandal involving musher Dallas Seavey.
Earlier this week, the Iditarod Trail Committee announced Seavey's dogs tested positive for Tramadol, an opioid pain reliever, within hours of his team crossing the finish line in Nome in March-- something Seavey vehemently denies having any part of.
"It's not a stretch to say that perhaps that this is the most difficult time [in the history of the Iditarod]," Hooley said.
In an interview Tuesday, Seavey said he'd withdrawn from the 2018 race and made allegations of possible sabotage.
"All we can deal with is the facts. We know we had our first positive test. 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 said.
Seavey says he opted to withdraw from the next race before "the board could accuse him of violating the race's Rule 53, which bars statement of misconduct by mushers injurious to and in reckless disregard of the best interest of the race."
Hooley says that Rule 53, "in hindsight, should've been clarified. It really wasn't meant for mushers to feel they couldn't express their concerns to us... that rule was put into place to keep mushers from certain behaviors or spoken words that were damaging or disparaging to our sponsors."
"We have been in a position that most sporting events haven't been in.. the average relationship [with sponsors] averages almost 17 years-- which is unheard of in the sports world," Hooley said.
Hooley said that thus far, no sponsors have dropped out since the doping allegations made headlines.
"We've had several significant challenges along the way, but this one ranks among the top," Hooley said.
"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. Do I know what happened? No. But that's the thought that wanders around in my head."
Hooley explained that the way the doping rule is currently written, the burden of proof is on the ITC-- to prove that there is intent. That's what prompted the ITC to rewrite the rule over the summer.
"We should've said we were rewriting the rule because of a positive drug test"