ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - An attorney for musher Dallas Seavey says an independent investigation clears Seavey of allegations that he gave his dog team a banned pain killer during the 2017 Iditarod.
Attorney Clint Campion issued a press release that said "Four time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey has definitive proof that demonstrates the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) wrongly tied his name to dog doping allegations in the 2017 Iditarod."
Campion said "Dallas was made a scapegoat for a drug testing positive that they didn't investigate and they didn't give him a chance to really have a full hearing."
Campion said an independent forensic drug testing expert has reviewed the documents provided by the ITC and has reached the following conclusions:
• Tramadol was administered to four of Seavey’s dogs two to four hours after Seavey finished in second place in the 2017 Iditarod.
• The dosing of Seavey’s dogs after the completion of the 2017 Iditarod supports intentional doping of his dogs by an unknown third party.
• The administration of Tramadol to Seavey’s dogs after the 2017 Iditarod was potentially harmful to his dogs and would not have provided any competitive advantage to Seavey.
The press release continued "These facts constitute clear and convincing evidence that Seavey did not dope his dogs."
Campion said Iditarod officials should have never released Seavey's name publicly, and that Seavey is keeping his legal options open.
Campion also said that negotiations with the Iditarod Trail Committee to try to reach an agreement on clearing the record have been unsuccessful.
The public relations firm that represents the Iditarod Trail Committee issued a written statement Wednesday afternoon that said "We are reviewing the information distributed to the media today and will request any relevant documents created by Dallas' team to investigate further. We look forward to saying more once we have had an opportunity to do so. We would like to reiterate what was stated in Dallas' release: '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 not to speculate on the circumstances surrounding the positive drug test of his four dogs.' With the 2018 race just weeks away, our focus remains ensuring a safe and secure Iditarod experience for all participants.”
The controversy began back in late October, 2017, when the Iditarod Trail Committee announced that Dallas Seavey was the musher whose dog team tested positive for an opioid pain reliever after completing the Iditarod in 2017.
ITC had initially announced that a top 20 finisher's dog team had tested positive for Tramadol in Nome, but the committee declined to name the musher involved.
The Iditarod Official Finishers Club, or IOFC, then demanded the public release of the mushers name, and accused the ITC of mishandling the investigation.
Seavey strongly denied giving the banned substance to his team and he said he suspected sabotage.
On Jan. 9, 2018, Seavey challenged members of the Iditarod Trail Committee to either prove the doping allegations, or have the responsible individuals resign.
Seavey wrote in a statement “Despite my repeated requests, the ITC has still failed to provide a single document or piece of evidence that connects the collection of samples from my dogs with the allegedly positive tests. This information is critical in determining whether my dogs or the test results were tampered with.”
Mark Nordman, the Iditarod Race Director, said on Feb. 8th, “Dallas was never personally accused by me or anyone else of drugging his dogs. We don’t know how it happened.”
On the question of the investigation into the alleged drugging of his dogs, Nordman said it is “an ongoing thing.” As a success, he pointed to Rule 39 recently revised by the Iditarod Trail Committee that holds mushers “strictly liable for all positive tests for prohibited drugs” instead of requiring them to prove intent.
On Oct. 24th, 2017, The Iditarod Trail Committee said it was looking at possible security improvements. In a phone interview, Chas St. George, the chief operations officer for the ITC, defended the race's existing security precautions, but said additional measures are under consideration. "We can do better, we will do better" St George said.
In response to the doping allegations, Seavey pulled out of the 2018 Iditarod and is now slated to participate in the Finnmarksløpet, a 1,100 km sled dog race based out of Norway.
On November 10, 2017, Seavey made what he calls a "formal demand" to officials with the Iditarod Trail Committee, that they turn over the results of the dogs which tested positive for the banned substance.
“This effort isn’t just to clear my name. The outcome of this is important to every musher, every dog, our fans, our sport, and our sponsors,” Seavey said in a statement issued at the time.
In the demand, Seavey pointed out "problems" he sees with the allegations. "Every musher is very aware of drug testing and also knowledgeable that Tramadol is easily detected," Seavey said.
Seavey also said in the statement in November that the transparency of the testing process, test methodology, chain of custody of samples, and results from the ITC must be made public.
Also in his Nov. 10, 2017 statement, Seavey questioned security measure along the trail. "They (food drop bags) are not secured. They are not protected. When we pull into a checkpoint, there's bags lined up out on the river ice. Now, we all want to believe that we're all honest and upright, but that's not the case. It would be so easy to inject something into these bags."