“The Iditarod can try to run me over, they can try to throw me under the bus,” Seavey said in the video, “but I’m going to be honest to myself and they’re going to find out that I don’t fit under the bus.”
As a result of the violation, race officials said, they reworked the rules to establish clearer standards for what constitutes a violation and for how a musher’s culpability can be proved or disproved. The revision to the regulation, known as Rule 39, stipulates penalties for violations, including disqualification or even a ban from future competition.
According to the committee’s statement that identified Seavey, he denied that he had administered the drug and said that doing so would have been irrational since he was aware of the testing. He said that Tramadol, in his opinion, would not give him a competitive advantage, according to the statement.
But in his video, Seavey went further, calling the proceedings “a cancer” on the sport and saying he believes the positive test was the result of a malicious attack from either another musher or from one of the protest groups that wants to harm the Iditarod. He said he was told in April about the positive result and had tried to work with the board to make the information public in order to exonerate himself but that the board would not work with him. He also said he expected ramifications for speaking up.
“I fully expect that after this I will be banned from the Iditarod based on the gag rule,” he said, making reference to a rule he claimed prevents mushers from discussing internal matters.
The committee initially kept Seavey’s identity secret, but after an emergency session on Monday they reversed course and named him because of a “level of unhealthy speculation involved in this matter.”
The pressure had come largely from the Iditarod Official Finishers Club, which issued a statement signed by 83 current and former competitors demanding the identity of the musher in question be revealed.
“It is unacceptable that multiple dogs tested positive for a drug in a single musher’s team and that that information was only recently made public when it was known since shortly after the team finished,” the statement said.
That it was a member of the Seavey family adds a great deal of weight to the issue, considering their importance to the race’s history. Dallas Seavey, 30, was the youngest musher to win the Iditarod when he captured the 2012 title, and he also won in 2014, 2015 and 2016. His father has three titles, as well as the world record time. His wife, Jen, ran the race in 2009, and his grandfather, Dan, competed in the first two Iditarod races in 1973 and 1974.
After his fourth Iditarod win, Dallas Seavey explained what the accomplishment meant to his family, saying “It’s just another day of mushing, man. This is what we do.”