ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - In an interview with Channel 2 News Tuesday morning, musher Dallas Seavey repeated his claim that he did not give a banned substance – a pain killer called Tramadol – to members of his dog team during or after the 2017 Iditarod.
Race officials say four dogs in Seavey's team tested positive for the drug.
When asked if he thought if it was more likely that someone else gave the drug to his dogs accidentally, or whether it was intentional sabotage, Seavey replied, "I would have to say that this is most likely to have been intentional. By whom? I have no idea. I have speculation, but it's just that. I have no facts to prove that. You can't prove a negative. I can't prove I didn't do this, unless I can prove somebody else did, right? And that's the tough situation that I'm in here. So, I'd have to say, I don't know how it could have been done accidentally."
Seavey said it would be relatively easy to taint a musher's food supply for their dogs with a banned substance without getting caught.
"We send our food drops two weeks before the Iditarod starts," Seavey said. "They 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."
Seavey again called on the board of directors of the race to improve security to prevent possible tampering, and to establish an independent review process if a musher's dogs test positive for a banned substance. Seavey said the process should allow mushers the opportunity to present evidence and testimony to a review board.
Seavey has announced he will not be running in the 2018 Iditarod. When asked Tuesday if he would like to see a boycott of the race by other mushers, Seavey replied, "I need mushers to come together and they are. They can produce the solutions, so if that's the way that it needs to be handled, then yes. But for the first time, the board of directors is hearing from us that they cannot just do what they want and we're just going to sign up and show at the race start. That's the assumption they've always operated under – is we don't have any other choice. So yeah, I think mushers need to make their demands real clear. And that is: We're not willing to race under this leadership."
Seavey called for the resignation of the current Iditarod board members, with the exception of Wade Marrs, the musher representative on the board.
"I see myself racing this (the Iditarod) again down the road, but I'm not going to race under this leadership," Seavey said. "I am not going to subjugate myself to them. Not unless they are ready to be fully honest with us and communicate with us, and we need to be heard. I mean, they have to respect us."
Seavey also called for elimination of what mushers commonly refer to as the gag rule, which prevents them from speaking out publicly about Iditarod issues. Seavey says the rule prevented him from previously speaking publicly about the allegations against him.
"Should there be any governing body that is beyond reproach from the governed?" Seavey asked. "They can say, 'Do not yell at our sponsors,' but they should not say, 'Do not yell at us.' If they're going to make decisions as a board, they cannot make a rule that says we are not allowed to disagree with their decisions. This is not a dictatorship. This should be a group of mushers being heard and represented by their board."