The famous race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska is steeped in history and lore, but the race organizers are dealing with new kind of notoriety: doping of participating sled dogs. Animal advocates having been lobbying for closing down the grueling race because sled dogs often die from exhaustion and suffer serious injuries. One hundred and fifty dogs have died in the race's forty-four year history according to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Last year a drunk on a snowmobile attacked mushers and killed a dog. Huskies, known for their willingness to run until they cannot, have suffered severe infections and bloody paws.
Dallas Seavey has won the race several times and lost to his father in this year's race. Four of his dogs tested positive for an opiod pain-killer, Tramadol. Because the race organizers cannot prove he administered the drug, Seavey [photo] will keep his $59,000 in winnings. A documentary director of a film about sled dogs said the race is all about winning regardless of inhuman treatment of the dogs. The race has lost sponsors as result of the criticisms, notably Wells Fargo. Seavey has said he will withdraw from next year's race after criticizing the organizing trail committee for its handling of the doping issue. He denies he doped his dogs and believes their food was adulterated. The committee has changed this year's rules to put the disqualification of a positive drug result on the musher unless they can show the doping was beyond their control.