On October 23, the Iditarod Trail Committee linked Dallas Seavey to positive test results for banned substances in dogs. Seavey has responded with a lengthy video in which he expressed his frustration with the trail committee and strongly maintained his innocence.
In an October 9th press release, the Iditarod Trail Committee stated “several dogs in a single musher’s team in the 2017 Race tested positive for a prohibited substance.” They did not reveal the identity of the musher in question to the public. The committee explained it did not pursue recourse because as the rule was written they had to be able to prove intent. A revision to this rule, the main subject of the October 9th statement, erased this stipulation and would hold a musher “strictly liable for any positive test, unless the musher can establish, to the satisfaction of an independent review board by clear and convincing evidence, that the positive test(s) resulted from causes completely beyond their control.”
On October 23, the committee released an updated statement in which they revealed the identity of the racer in question as Dallas Seavey. The committee cited “the unhealthy level of speculation involved in this matter” as the reason for their decision to release his identity.
According to the Iditarod Trail Committee’s press release, Seavey’s dogs tested positive for Tramadol, a pain reliever, at the conclusion of the race. They also disclosed Seavey’s response to the inquiry, which included denial of administering the drug, his position that it would have been irrational for him to do so knowing he would be subjected to mandatory and voluntary testing, and his opinion that Tramadol would not have given him a competitive advantage.
Dallas Seavey announced on his Facebook page that he would be withdrawing his name from the 2018 race in protest of the committee’s handling of the matter. In his passionate video response he repeatedly states “I have done nothing wrong. I have never knowingly broken any race rule.” Additionally, Seavey revealed his belief that the most likely cause of the positive test result was sabotage from an outside party. “There were mushers close to me in the race that I feel have a grudge,” Seavey claims. “If it was not another musher…there are many other people that could do the same thing.” He later added “anti-mushing people” to his list of possible culprits.
In addition to his denial of involvement, Seavey strongly criticized the Iditarod Trail Committee, citing his long dialogue with race organizers regarding the issue and repeated pleas for them to release all of their information regarding the incident. Expressing his frustration he said, “They can try to throw me under the bus…they’re going to find out I don’t fit under the bus.”
Dallas Seavey hails from a long tradition of Iditarod and sled dog racing. His grandfather, Dan Seavey Sr., participated in the first Iditarod Race in 1971 and competed most recently in 2012 at the age of 74. Dallas Seavey’s father, Mitch Seavey, is also an accomplished musher having won the Iditarod three times (2004, 2013, and 2017). At the age of 58 he became the oldest participant to win the Iditarod in the race’s history when he won the 2017 event in record time.
Dallas Seavey became the youngest person to win the Iditarod Race in 2012 at the age of 25. He went on to win again in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and finished second behind his father in 2017. Additionally, he won the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest in 2011 as a rookie. Outside of dog sled racing, Seavey was also an accomplished wrestler in school, winning both the national and state championships. His subsequent dreams of being an Olympic contender in wrestling came to a halt after an injury. He is also a noted public speaker and has been a part of the National Geographic reality television show Ultimate Survival Alaska.
The Seavey family has strong ties to Seward. The family operates Seavey’s Ididaride, which offers sled dog tours and cabin rentals off Old Exit Glacier Road just outside of town. Various members of the family have lived in the area for many years.
You can view Dallas’s full video response here: