Every musher in the 38th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be tested for alcohol and illegal drugs on the trail — for the first time in the history of the 1,100-mile race in Alaska. Three-time defending champion Lance Mackey believes the change is directed at him.
Three-time defending champion Mackey says policy is directed at him: Every musher in the 38th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be tested for alcohol and illegal drugs on the trail — a first in the history of the 1,100-mile race in Alaska.
Three-time defending champion Lance Mackey believes the change is directed at him.
“I know for a fact,” said Mackey, who is from Fairbanks, Alaska.
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Mackey, a throat-cancer survivor who has been open about using medical marijuana on the trail in past years, on Tuesday was in eighth place. The race to Nome began with 71 teams Sunday in Willow; five mushers have stopped competing.
Jeff King, a four-time champion from Denali Park, Alaska, was the first to leave the McGrath checkpoint, which is 352 miles from Willow.
Scott White of Woodinville was in 51st place.
Race organizers aren’t saying when or where on the route testing will occur. A musher who tests positive could face disqualification, a period of ineligibility from future races, or both.
“We’re going to test everybody,” said Stan Hooley, executive director of the Iditarod Trail Committee. “It’s not going to be random.”
Race rules have included a policy on drugs and alcohol since 1984, but the policy has not been implemented — though sled dogs have been tested for performance enhancers since 1994.
Hooley said it would be difficult to deny Mackey’s contentions he is being singled out for his acknowledged pot use and that other mushers have complained.
“The reality of it is, he’s won the race three times and people would like to figure out a way to beat him,” Hooley said.
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