The organizers of the Iditarod will be conducting drug and alcohol testing on its competitors in March. Few competitors have a problem with the plan to test but 3 time winner Lance Mackey feels that the move is a ridiculous waste because the one’s who’ll truly be competing are the dogs and not the humans. He also states that human drug use wouldn’t affect the final outcome of the race. Mackey, a throat cancer survivor who at one point had a medical marijuana card and has publically admitted he used the drug while racing, feels that the move is an attempt to disqualify him and mollify jealous competitors.
“It isn’t the reason I’ve won three years in a row,” said Mackey, though he admits that the drug helps him stay focused during the almost 10-day race.
Organizers of the competition say they’ve been trying to arrange for drug testing for years and that there has been an informal alcohol and drug policy in place since 1984. “Where during a race (we will test) has not yet been finalized,” Hooley said by phone on Monday. “It might be random. It might be a group of mushers at a specific checkpoint.”
The drug test will be at random and mushers are unlikely to be informed about when it will be done ahead of time. Most of the policy has been hashed out and organizers are likely to proceed with the plan which is intended to prevent the use of marijuana, amphetamines, narcotics and opiates including codeine. Previously, mushers were subject to testing under reasonable suspicion from a race official or on a random basis. Now the circumstances include “a random group or all mushers on a date or dates to be determined within 30 days of the start of the race” and “the first fixed number of mushers who arrive at a stated checkpoint.”
Failing the test means being disqualified.