Alaska News

Iditarod strips musher of race finish for alleged pot use

Juneau musher Matt Giblin has been stripped of his 38th-place finish in the 2012 Iditarod after testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, race officials said Thursday.

Giblin is the first musher to be sanctioned under the Iditarod's 3-year-old drug-testing program. An appeals board found that the veteran racer must repay the $1,049 he earned for finishing this year's race, said Race Marshal Mark Nordman.

Iditarod officials began testing mushers for illegal drugs during the 2010 race. Former champion Lance Mackey, a throat-cancer survivor who has admitted to smoking marijuana in the past, said at the time he believed the rule was spurred by jealous competitors.

Mackey and other top mushers have not tested positive under the Iditarod program. This year, as in years past, mushers were tested when they arrived at the late-race checkpoint of White Mountain.

Nordman said Giblin's test came back positive for THC in late March or early April. The musher appealed the findings.

"He said that he didn't, hadn't used marijuana during the event," Nordman said.

Giblin, who placed 40th out of 47 mushers in the 2011 Iditarod, could not immediately be reached for comment.

He is considered disqualified from the race, which ended in March, and has forfeited his status as a 2012 finisher, according to an Iditarod spokesman.

Giblin has not yet signed up for the 2013 race.

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Anchorage Daily News

Kyle Hopkins

Kyle Hopkins is special projects editor of the Anchorage Daily News. He was the lead reporter on the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Lawless" project and is part of an ongoing collaboration between the ADN and ProPublica's Local Reporting Network. He joined the ADN in 2004 and was also an editor and investigative reporter at KTUU-TV. Email