Mitch Seavey says he will race as Iditarod chief of drug testing resigns

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Iditarod Trail Committee's chief of drug testing, Dr. Morrie Craig, has announced his resignation Saturday.

The move is welcome news to three-time Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey who had threatened to sit out the 2019 race if Dr. Craig stayed in his position.

In a press release, the ITC announced that Craig will be stepping down after 25 years at the helm after he helped put together the Iditarod's dog drug testing program.

Craig has had a controversial recent history with the race, in 2017 he was the head of the drug testing program when accusations were made public that four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey had doped his dogs.

Craig also allegedly had a confrontation with Wade Marrs at the Iditarod restart in Willow in 2018, leading for calls that Craig should be fired from his role.

The ITC formally reprimanded Craig but did not sack him saying, the conversation with Marrs was "at best ill-timed, and a breach of protocol on Dr. Craig's part."

Three-time champion Mitch Seavey had posted a letter to the Iditarod Official Finisher's Club Facebook page saying he would not run the race in 2019 if Craig did not resign.

Channel 2 spoke with Seavey about his thoughts on the resignation, saying this was good news. "It means I can run the Iditarod this year," Seavey said.

ITC's Chief Operations Officer, Chas St. George, said Dr. Craig gave no reason as to why he resigned. St. George also said Dr. Craig made no mention of Mitch Seavey as being part of his decision.

Seavey went on to say he hopes the person who takes charge of the drug program will continue to make changes.

"My feeling is that, first of all, we need sweeping change," Seavey said. "In the drug testing program that includes drug testing in the off season, starting December 1 all the way to the finish."

Channel 2 also spoke to four-time champion Dallas Seavey who sat out the 2018 Iditarod and has not committed to racing to Nome in 2019. Seavey said this is a step in the right direction but there are still major changes that need to be made.

Craig says he will continue to work with the ITC on research projects that will continue to benefit sled dog's health and well being. The ITC says the search for Craig's successor will begin immediately.

The first day of Iditarod signups closed at the Wasilla Headquarters Saturday at 3:30 p.m with 28 mushers signing on to run the 2019 race.

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