Drug Testing Planned for Iditarod Mushers
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Drug Testing Planned for Iditarod Mushers
Posted by CN Staff on December 07, 2009 at 08:46:43 PT
By Matias Saari, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Source: Juneau Empire
Fairbanks -- The Iditarod plans to test mushers for drugs and alcohol in March, a change that many mushers don't have a problem with unless one asks three-time champion Lance Mackey."I think it's a little bit ridiculous," Mackey said Wednesday night from his home near Fairbanks after a training run. "It is a dog race, not a human race. It (using a drug) doesn't affect the outcome of the race." Mackey, a throat cancer survivor who has a medical marijuana card, admits to using marijuana on the trail and thinks his success has brought about jealousy from some fellow competitors.
"It isn't the reason I've won three years in a row," said Mackey, though he concedes that marijuana helps him stay focused during the nearly 10-day race.Now Mackey will have to change his ways or risk disqualification. Aaron Burmeister, a member of the Iditarod's board of directors, said the Iditarod Official Finishers' Club has been requesting for years that mushers be drug tested."It's time," said Burmeister, a 12-time Iditarod finisher from Nenana.The Iditarod has had a policy regarding drug and alcohol use since 1984, said Stan Hooley, executive director for the Iditarod Trail Committee. But he called it "fairly informal" and said to his knowledge mushers have never actually been tested. The Iditarod finally will enforce the rule for the 2010 race, Hooley said."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."Mushers probably will not be informed in advance when and where they will be tested, Hooley said. Urine samples will be sent to a lab in the Lower 48 with about a 48-hour turnaround for results, he added.The bulk of the policy has been determined, Hooley said. That includes who will do the testing (the Anchorage company WorkSafe Inc., as a sponsor and at no cost to the Iditarod); what the prohibited list is (it includes marijuana, amphetamines, narcotics and opiates including codeine); and the criteria for a therapeutic use exemption."I expect at one checkpoint the top 20 or 30 teams will have to do a pee test," musher Zack Steer of Sheep Mountain said. "I would hope that everybody comes back negative."Back in May, an expanded Rule 29 ("Use of Drugs and Alcohol") was approved at an ITC board of directors meeting, with only board members John Handeland and Jim Palin voting no. Mushers began signing up for the race under the new rules, which are published on the race's Web site, in June and last month were sent a letter that stated the entire rule and included the recently approved list of prohibited drugs."I would be surprised if mushers weren't aware of it," Hooley said, adding that he has gotten no feedback from mushers positive or negative.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.""Failure of a drug test will result in disqualification," Hooley wrote in an e-mail to the Daily News-Miner.Refusing a test or adulterating a test specimen is also grounds for disqualification, according to the rule.As for alcohol, the rule states, as it did before, that 0.04 blood-alcohol content half the legal driving limit in Alaska is a violation. That would trigger an unspecified discipline where the race marshal could use his discretion, Hooley said.When it comes to dogs, the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest have for many years tested for a lengthy list of prohibited substances.Hooley and mushers offered reasons justifying drug testing for humans as well.Safety of the dogs is a race priority, and using drugs can adversely affect hand-eye coordination and motor skills, Hooley said.Steer, a member of the Iditarod Rules Committee that he said "rubber-stamped" the expanded rule, said many professional sports have drug-testing programs and that the Iditarod is merely following suit."If you want to be judged as a world-class event, then that's what you do," said Steer, adding that he does not do drugs and is "ambivalent" about the rule.The driving force for the changed policy was the IOFC, which meets twice a year at the opening sign-up in June in Wasilla and again after the race finish in Nome. It was the club's recommendation that Iditarod officials acted on, Hooley said.Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers said enforcing a drug policy has been on the front burner for a relatively small number of mushers."For a few people and a few mushers, it's a really big deal," said Zirkle, who also is the secretary/treasurer of the club.Zirkle is not convinced the Iditarod will actually test in 2010. At the mandatory mushers meeting before the 2009 start, the race marshal announced the Iditarod would be testing during the race but didn't, Zirkle said.Hooley said no unfounded scare tactics are being used. "It is something we definitely plan to do," he said.How prevalent drugs are in the Iditarod depends on who is asked."We don't know. We don't believe (they are)," Hooley said. "This effort will answer that question of what, if anything, is being used."Or it may just force those who have used drugs to abstain during the race, and likely before it so they can rid a banned substance from their bodies.Mushers point to marijuana as the only noticeable drug being taken. Steer said he has smelled and seen marijuana on the trail but does not believe it helps or hinders a musher's dog care."I've never seen a musher gain a competitive advantage," Steer said.Several individuals both for and against the drug policy declined to be interviewed on the record because of the potentially controversial topic, but Mackey is not among them. The issue of mushers smoking on the trail is irrelevant because it hasn't affected anyone's race, he said.And what he does in his time is his business."The Alaska lifestyle, you can do just about anything you want if you're not bothering anybody," he said. "You have a little more freedom in this state and smoking pot is kind of a common thing here in Alaska."Mackey doesn't blame the Iditarod board for creating the new policy at the behest of the IOFC. Instead, Mackey contends he is being targeted by some competitive mushers."People are just jealous of what I've accomplished," Mackey said. Source: Juneau Empire (AK)Author: Matias Saari, Fairbanks Daily News-MinerPublished: Monday, December 07, 2009Copyright: 2009 Southeastern Newspaper CorpWebsite: letterstotheeditor juneauempire.comCannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on December 08, 2009 at 11:33:02 PT
I think not.In reference to the stuff at comment 11.It's too hot for anyone to touch. Even the prohibitionist should know, and apparently does, that if he hits that one... he's in trouble.A veritable land mine in an intellectual and veritable "war" on people using drugs.Dang. (A sound some bells make when they ring.)
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on December 08, 2009 at 10:32:05 PT
Then again.
Maybe not.
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on December 08, 2009 at 10:09:51 PT
Oh my gosh
Comment 11.That's going to ring some bells!
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Comment #15 posted by Sam Adams on December 08, 2009 at 10:04:48 PT
depraved individuals
the lust for fresh, warm urine is one of most pitiful aspects of the drug war!Which of you strong, noble Warriors has the guts to go out there in the frigid cold and hold the urine cup?If I was Mackey I'd either boycott the race or just do it and pee on the guy's leg instead of in the cup and then finish the race.If they want to make it safer for the dogs they should take blood samples from the dogs. They're just lying
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Comment #14 posted by runruff on December 08, 2009 at 09:15:08 PT
Street theater.
Next summer I will dress up like Uncle Sam and stand on a busy street corner with a sign, "WILL KILL FOR DRUGS"
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Comment #13 posted by runruff on December 08, 2009 at 09:10:34 PT
He 's afraid someone might recreate with herb?
He is also on a secrete panel sworn to help the US keep the formula for "Upsidasium" from the Russians!Boris and Natasha are relentless in their pursuit!I think the recreation market is sharing with the MMJ, not the other way around, don't you?
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on December 08, 2009 at 09:09:13 PT
Had Enough
Too true!"... still have quite a journey left".It's wonderful that we seem to be moving forward amazingly faster than we have been accustomed to, finally, but it's still, as you said, quite a long way to go before we can say, "Done".We've just seen glimmers of daylight, and that's so encouraging... that there might actually be widespread daylight on this matter some day, but it's, obviously, still dangerously dark and we have a long way to go, yet.It shouldn't take this long to end a terrible and deadly injustice. That's so sad... but giving up on something like this isn't an option.So...On we go.Stomp Stomp ClapStomp Stomp Clap
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Comment #11 posted by Had Enough on December 08, 2009 at 08:52:32 PT
Nukes, Drugs, and Rock & Roll
Nukes, Drugs, and Rock & Roll - part I (with Poll), Drugs, and Rock & Roll - part II, Whistle Retaliation all pot-smoking professionals ... time to speak out! Part III!***museman...If you see this post...please read it...part III is might find it interesting, not surprised, but interesting anyway...We’ve come along way...but still have quite a journey left...
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on December 08, 2009 at 08:29:31 PT
Drug Testing
I think drug testing people is wrong. I do think that some people would give their animal a drug to perform better and that is immoral. I saw a person giving a pulling pony a shot by their horse trailer one time before the pull. That made me really angry. My mother watched a horse drop dead at the finish line in a race. It's heart exploded from speed they gave it. 
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on December 08, 2009 at 08:23:37 PT
The probably do test jockies.
I wouldn't be surprised.The thing is that Drug Testing is a big, big money business. It's all about money at the expense of dignity and respect and everything else.It's a form of elitism as it's worst. Trouble is, people don't have the where with all, or money, or courage to rein the "business" of drug testing in.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on December 08, 2009 at 07:58:09 PT
Drug Testing
In any sport that involves dogs or horses I am 100% for testing the animal. I have never heard of the riders of horses being testing but maybe they test a jockey in a big horse race but I'm not sure.
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on December 08, 2009 at 07:29:53 PT
The Iditarod is quite a race.
A man that smokes cannabis, a cancer survivor, has won the race three years in a row. "Ow" to the prohibitionists!So now, the prohibitionists say it's time to add another hardship to the race. Now they have to add the indignity and insult of having to pee in a cup down the road for some professional busybodies. The mushers also have to worry and dread if the test is accurate. Everyone knows it can be mistaken. That's a nice addition to the stress of the race.The new "Witch Test" has been added to the Iditarod. It might be a little more "accurate" than the old dunking test at finding the new "witches".
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on December 08, 2009 at 06:24:54 PT
Just a Comment
I've been looking for news to post but nothing has popped up yet. I'll keep looking though.
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Comment #5 posted by Vincent on December 07, 2009 at 20:47:01 PT:
Drug Testing
So, the prohibitionist lowlifes want to turn their evil, drug-testing eyes on the Iditarod. Kinda reminds me of a wounded knows that it's going to die so, it turns extremely vicious, in order to send its opponent to perdition before it goes there.Even they see the handwriting on the wall.
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on December 07, 2009 at 19:52:20 PT:
And to think Iditarod was originally
about a mercy mission. To save lives. Undertaken by some of the toughest 'rugged individualists' on the planet. People who moved to Alaska because it was one of the few places that hadn't been 'civilized' into bland homogeneity...or had its' soul bureaucratized.And now? One more instance of that bureaucratization, one more instance of stealing freedom under the rubric of 'safety'. Sad, really. 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on December 07, 2009 at 16:46:51 PT
Arizona: Stricter Regs Needed for Medical Pot
December 7, 2009Supporters of an effort to legalize medical marijuana in Arizona have taken steps to avoid some of the problems that have riddled California since voters there passed Proposition 215 in 1996.URL:
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Comment #2 posted by herbdoc215 on December 07, 2009 at 09:42:55 PT
Another sport where a pothead rules!
Since Ross Roblligati won the Olympics and test positive all the haters want to say it now helps you instead of hurts you...they can spin their bs to suit them. this is just player hating from losers because one of us has won last three years, nothing less than crybaby crap! Micheal Phillips has also shown all cannabis users are not the losers we are portrayed as, many of us do wonderful and innovative things like win sports, leave in mountains that killed others and find gold mines, explore the world...some of us even us this stuff to live normal lives, can you imagine that? Myself I think it makes the mushers more empathetic to the dogs and their needs resulting in greater effort on the dogs part...they know they are loved! peace, steve
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 07, 2009 at 08:49:04 PT
Test The Sled Dogs
What in the world is the reason to test the Mushers?
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