Just after midnight on Saturday morning, Team 8 was disqualified from the 2017 Iron Dog for violating rule 13.2.
Rule 13.2 states, "Racers will be permitted to receive outside help for fuel and engine oil ONLY between the checkpoints of Ruby and Tanana. 13.2.1 NO OTHER ASSISTANCE OF ANY KIND INCLUDING PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH THE PIT CREW WILL BE PERMITTED.
According to Tyson Johnson, the disqualification comes after a photo surfaced of spectators pushing on the back of their sleds while the team was fueling. Johnson continues, "we only needed about 5 gallons, pushing on the back helps get an extra half gallon but we didn't even need that fuel." Johnson continues to explain the team didn't realize spectators were pushing on the sled and when they saw them, Team 8 asked them to stop.
The team feels the disqualification "makes us look like cheaters" while they also feel "teams get 15 minute penalties for worse things."
Iron Dog Executive Director Kevin Kastner says, "unfortunately, the only set penalties for this infraction is between those two checkpoints," meaning disqualification is explicitly written in the rules for this infraction.
Hours from the Iron Dog finish, Team 8 also feels like this news is devastating to the riders still competing.
"I wouldn't feel I truly won unless I beat the fastest team. Last year we beat team 16 and this year being ahead of team 41...that's two very skilled teams...it cheapens it."