One of the Iditarod's biggest stars says the head of the race's drug testing program tried to intimidate him before the official restart.

In a statement from Wade Marrs' kennel, Stump Jumpin' Kennel, the top contending musher and the Iditarod Official Finishers Club president says Dr. Morrie Craig approached him publicly Sunday in Willow minutes before the start. 

Marrs alleges Craig told him that "his team's urine contained trace amounts of a prohibited substance" in a 2017 test.

Days before the Iditarod 46 start, KTVA asked Iditarod officials to address redacted material in a toxicology report sent to Dallas Seavey which seemed to suggest a second team in the 2017 race had a positive test for a banned substance.

Craig confirmed Tuesday that a second team tested positive for a banned substance-- a "theoretical positive", he called it-- in this case, the second team, Craig confirmed, tested positive for lidocaine. Lidocaine, according to Craig, is a common analgesic agent, and a low level might be indicative of it being used as a salve. 

Tuesday, KTVA Sports obtained the unredacted toxicology results that were sent to the Iditarod Trail Committee. 

Of note in the letter and toxicology results obtained by KTVA Sports Tuesday, the lidocaine-- and the low level of lidocaine-- indicates that it was used as a salve, which contradicts what the Iditarod said when it claimed the drug had been ingested via meat. 

Also, as it pertains to Dallas Seavey's team's positive test for Tramadol, the letter from Dr. Morrie Craig to the ITC contradicts the toxicology report by stating that the "Tramadol sample was greater than 254 ng(nanograms)/mL and is indicative of a large dose administered relatively recently", while a handwritten note in the toxicology report shows the Tramadol levels were 237 ng/mL. 

Chas St. George, COO of the ITC, said the levels of lidocaine were so low that Iditarod policy didn't require them to notify the musher, Wade Marrs. Iditarod officials knew about the lidocaine test result all along but maintain that it is not a positive result. That's why, St. George says, the ITC kept it quiet and did not speak publicly.

"It did not rise to a level and we did not notify the musher," St. George said. "It's a moot subject, as far as we're concerned. There was no second positive test in 2017." 

The Marrs camp believes Craig's approach was a direct threat to counteract Marrs' silence during the IOFC's meeting in Nome following the race. The group has requested that Craig be punished by the Iditarod Trail Committee. 

In the statement from Marrs' kennel, they claim the Iditarod said that "the trace prohibited substances found in the urine were likely due to the meat fed to his dogs and did not constitute a positive drug test."

KTVA spoke with Marrs in Nikolai before his departure to McGrath. He made it clear that the food given to his dogs during the 2017 race was not for human consumption. 

"It's not human grade meat, so sometimes stuff lands in it that wouldn't be in human grade meat," he said. 

St. George says the ITC stands by their story that the lidocaine could have come from ungraded processed animals not fit for human consumption that were made into dog food; St. George says he's happy the results were released because he feels it supports the ITC's position. 

Marrs says he would never do anything to hurt his animals.

"I would hate to have people think I'm out here doing something like that to my dogs. I would never, never want that thought in anybody's mind," said Marrs.

Marrs also addressed the perceived threat mentioned in the release.

When asked if he was taken by surprise, Marrs said, "Yeah it definitely did. Like I said to Stan (Hooley, Iditarod CEO) before we left, let's have a conversation but we should have it in Nome. Get it all over before this trail here, while we're trying to focus on other things."   

To end the statement, the Marrs camp challenged the Iditarod to handle the problem and address Craig's "unprofessional conduct."

Craig responded Tuesday afternoon. Listen to his response below (Can't see the audio players? Click here to listen.).

"I want to start off by apologizing to Wade," Craig said in an interview with KTVA Sports Tuesday. "Because, in no way did I threaten him, nor did I mean to."

Craig says he had numerous mushers ask him at the Ceremonial Start and Restart who the second musher was whose dogs had tested positive after the 2017 Iditarod.

"I had told them that there was no second positive," Craig said. "However, I knew how that read-- how Dallas had sort of claimed there was a second positive. The ITC had said there wasn't a second positive, but evidently, it wasn't fully understood or accepted by a number of mushers." 

"I came over and approached Wade... because I wouldn't see him again until we were in Nome. It was stated that we would talk about 2017 in Nome at the official finishers meeting and not at our Thursday meeting. I mentioned to Wade that the second theoretical positive was lidocaine, but it wasn't a positive-- it was a nanogram level, and he asked who it was... It was Wade." 

The ITC released the following statement late-Tuesday evening:

The Iditarod Trail Committee is aware of a conversation about drug testing results between Dr. Morrie Craig and Iditarod XLVI musher Wade Marrs prior to the restart in Willow, Alaska, on Sunday.

The ITC wants to acknowledge that Dr. Craig’s conversation with Wade Marrs was ill timed at best.   ITC does not condone any threatening or harassing behavior by anyone involved with the Race, whether it is ITC representatives, mushers, or other persons. 

The ITC is reviewing this situation and will make a determination on Dr. Craig’s role with the Iditarod Drug Testing program in the coming days.

Wednesday morning, Seavey took to Facebook to write a post backing up Marrs saying:

I stand with Wade Marrs. He could sure use your support right now. He's running a beautiful race so far and is resting in McGrath. He usually takes his 24 hour mandatory layover at that checkpoint, so head on over to his kennel facebook page at Stump Jumpin' Kennel - Wade Marrs and cheer him on!

John Thompson and Liz Thomas contributed to this report.

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