ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The 2018 Iditarod is still three weeks from starting, but the turmoil around the race is already off and running.
A mushers group, called the Official Iditarod Finishers Club, is demanding the immediate resignation of Andy Baker, the president of the Iditarod board of directors, citing a conflict of interest.
In a letter to the board, dated Feb. 6, the mushers group wrote "The IOFC cautions that should Andy Baker refuse to immediately step down that the 2018 race, including the bib drawing ceremony and the ceremonial start, will be completely overshadowed by negative discourse and action demanding his resignation."
The letter also said that people serving on the board of directors should not have a vested interest in the outcome of the race.
Andy Baker is the brother of musher John Baker.
As of Thursday night, Andy Baker had not returned a call from Channel 2 asking for comment.
In a phone interview Thursday evening, Wade Marrs, president of the mushers organization, said "There's obviously change in the air and some people want to see it sooner than others. Mainly, we want to see the race grow and succeed and we want the tension to leave the air and we want everyone to be on the same playing field and working together."
When asked if mushers are considering a boycott of the race if Baker does not step down, Marrs said there's no talk of a boycott "at this time".
The IOFC also said there should be a June timeline for the remaining board members with a conflict of interest to resign.
The mushers group said it waited until the release of a report from the Foraker Group before demanding action.
In a report dated December 4, 2017, the Foraker Group, a consulting firm that advises non-profits on how to improve their organizations, told the Iditarod Trail Committee "While Foraker doesn’t question the integrity or dedication of the current directors, six of the nine have conflicts and are perceived by some as making decisions through those conflicts. They may or may not be making decisions based on these conflicts, however good governance cannot be easily achieved with a high level of perceived conflict. If the six individuals with conflicts were to resign, leaving the minimum of three directors as an interim board, the remaining directors could replace the six empty seats. If that becomes a necessary approach, the newly constituted board of nine would then revise the bylaws and would adhere to the matrix of characteristics for a balanced, business-like board."