ITC responds after head of drug testing program allegedly threatens musher

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MCGRATH, Alaska (KTUU) - The Iditarod Trail Committee will make a determination on Dr. Morrie Craig’s "role with the Iditarod Drug Testing program in the coming days," after he allegedly threatened Iditarod musher Wade Marrs before the Willow restart.

Wade Marrs in conversation with Channel 2 reporters at the McGrath checkpoint.

Marrs accused Craig of intimidating him and demanding that Marrs stop his defense of musher Dallas Seavey over a positive drug test during the 2017 Iditarod. Craig apparently threatened to make public news that Marrs' own dog team tested positive for a banned substance during the same race.

A statement from ITC says the organization is "aware of a conversation" between Marrs and Craig about drug testing results before the Willow restart; furthermore, they say it was "ill timed at best." The statement continues saying, "ITC does not condone any threatening or harassing behavior by anyone involved with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, whether it is ITC representatives, mushers, or other persons."

Meanwhile, Marrs spoke to Channel 2 reporters in McGrath, saying he had spoken to Iditarod CEO Stan Hooley and Race Director Mark Nordman about the issue.

"They were good – pretty much filling me in on what’s going on, because I haven’t seen anything," he said.

Marrs says "it's very nice" that Craig had apologized for his comments, but "it depends on the intent he did it with. Did he do it just to be nice, or was he just letting me know?”

Iditarod's chief veterinarian, Dr. Stuart Nelson, told Channel 2 reporters in McGrath that he had spoken to Marrs, but his primary focus is the race and the condition of the dogs.

"I know it’s been very unfortunate there has been communication issues," Nelson said. "I really wish it wasn’t there, but it’s still not going to change my focus of taking care of the dogs."

The attorney representing Dallas Seavey, another musher who ITC cleared of doping charges, says one problem is that the rules surrounding the race haven't been updated.

"I believe both in Dallas' case and in Wade's case the Iditarod has said there is not a rule violation," Clint Campion said, "and so therefore under any standard there should have been confidentiality. Unfortunately for Dallas in particular, now for the last 6-months his name has been associated with a positive test, and unfortunately it's unlikely he'll never really escape that cloud of suspicion regardless of what the real true acts are."

Seavey is not running the Iditarod this year, instead he is in Norway racing in the Finnmarkslopet. Tuesday wrote his support for Wade on Facebook.

"I stand with Wade Marrs. He could sure use your support right now," Seavey wrote.

Former board member and Iditarod veteran, Aaron Burmeister, spoke in defense of the board at the McGrath checkpoint. “There is a lot of challenges with Iditarod right now. The board members work tirelessly to make the right decisions. We get put in a lot of situations, and no matter what decisions you make, or don’t make, people are happy, or unhappy.”

Meanwhile, Stump Jumpin' Kennel, which is owned and operated by Marrs, released the unredacted information given to him by ITC, regarding a possible positive drug test during the 2017 Iditarod.

The information suggests that while Marrs' team tested positive for trace amounts of lidocaine in their urine, the results were too low to qualify as a positive test.

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