ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The musher whose dogs reportedly tested positive for an opioid pain killer says he or she was assured by race officials that the “issue was over,” and that the levels of the drug present also indicated that it was likely given to the dogs after the race’s finish
That’s according to a statement posted to a private Facebook group for Iditarod finishers. Channel 2 obtained the statement, and verified it with members of that Facebook page.
The statement, posted by the Iditarod Official Finisher’s Club President, on behalf of “Musher X,” details the musher’s knowledge of what happened.
The statement says that Musher X was told by the race marshal that there had been a positive drug test, and that over the course of the next few weeks, the musher insisted that they did not use or administer the drug to their team. The musher repeatedly offered to submit to a polygraph test.
It says that after review, the marshal told the musher that “the instrument was noted to be saturated/overloaded,” which meant the levels of the drug present indicated it was likely given to the dogs after the finish of the race.
The race’s head veterinarian was quoted in the statement as saying “given the levels present at the time of the test, the musher would have had to be completely ignorant of the drug to think they were not going to test positive in Nome (if given during the race).”
The musher was led to believe that the marshal and veterinarian believed that it was either an accident or “foul play” in the Nome dog lot or food bags.
They then told Musher X that the issue was over, and that measures were being taken to increase security in the food drops, check points and in the Nome dog yard.
Outside of the narrative from Musher X’s perspective, the statement continues on to criticize the handling of the test, including the way the Iditarod Board of Directors alluded to a positive test, thereby implicating all 20 of the top finishing mushers.
It questions the handling of the test, saying that standard procedure should include a “B” sample, taken while the musher is present – which was not done, according to the post.
The post says three test results were e-mailed, with the names of the dogs tested in question – one had a single dog’s name, one had two dogs’ names on it, and one said the dog’s name couldn’t be made out.
The statement concluded: “Since not one single drug test has been concluded as no B test has been performed, and the investigation cleared the musher in question, no musher should be considered guilty of anything, and any speculation is strictly conjecture.”
A spokesperson for the Iditarod Trail Committee told Channel 2 Thursday said that he could not comment on the statement outlined in the post, because he had not yet seen it.