Alaska News

Top 40 Iditarod mushers test clean for drugs

The Iditarod Trail Committee on Thursday said tests conducted on the first 40 race finishers came back with no sign of drug use.

For the second consecutive year, tests were conducted by the Anchorage firm WorkSafe, Inc.

Results on the other seven Iditarod finishers are expected next week.

Last year, the top 40 mushers also came back clean. But more than a month after the end of the race, it was disclosed that two back-of-the-pack mushers tested positive for THC, a compound in marijuana. No sanctions were imposed -- nor were the mushers identified -- because the rules weren't sufficiently clear, according to Iditarod executive director Stan Hooley.

Last year's rules said mushers weren't allowed to use drugs during the race, but the nature of the testing couldn't prove whether the THC use took place during or before the Iditarod.

The Iditarod board of directors amended the rules to say that merely testing positive can result in disqualification, meaning lingering drugs in your system could get you booted.

A drug rule has existed in some form since 1984 but was not strictly enforced until last year.

"For me, it was fine," said Kasilof's Bruce Linton, who finished a career-best 23rd, of his test at the White Mountain checkpoint. "They were very relaxed and allowed me to do it when I wanted to. So I took a nap first, and they were fine."

However, Linton said there was extensive discussion about drug testing at the Iditarod Finishers Club meeting in Nome, with some mushers unhappy with how long the process took.

Once mushers signed a form agreeing to the test, they needed to deliver a sample. At least one dehydrated musher had trouble doing so, Linton said, even after downing cup after cup of water at the White Mountain checkpoint.

The list of banned drugs include:

• Marijuana

• Hashish

• Cocaine

• Amphetamine/Methamphetamine

• Opiates (codeine/morphine)

• Synthetic opiates (hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone)

• Propoxyphene

• Phencyclidine

• Or any other narcotic or controlled substance as defined by federal or state law

Reach reporter Mike Campbell at or 257-4329.


Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell was a longtime editor for Alaska Dispatch News, and before that, the Anchorage Daily News.