Will Dog-Doping Iditarod Mushers Lose Their Titles and Awards?

PETA Calls On Race to Crack Down on Drug Pushers and Pull Dogs From the Event

For Immediate Release:
October 19, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Wasilla, Alaska – In the wake of reports that tramadol, a Class IV opioid used to manage severe pain, was found in a team of dogs used in the 2017 Iditarod, PETA sent a letter this morning urging the Iditarod Trail Committee to strip all mushers implicated in doping dogs of their titles and awards.

In the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that mushers use painkillers to force dogs to run despite bloody paws, strained muscles, stress fractures, and other injuries incurred during the 1,000-mile race. Because such injuries and death are inevitable, PETA is renewing its call on the race to stop using dogs altogether.

“Cracking down on dog-doping mushers is essential, but nothing will ease these dogs’ tremendous suffering except removing them from this deadly race entirely,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is again calling on the Iditarod to reinvent the race as a competition that celebrates human endurance and leaves the dogs out of it.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Iditarod Trail Committee CEO Stan Hooley follows.

October 19, 2017

Stan Hooley, CEO
Iditarod Trail Committee

Dear Mr. Hooley,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including 13,000 in Alaska, to urge you to strip all mushers implicated in doping dogs of their titles and awards.

As you know, recent reports indicate that tramadol, a Class IV opioid that’s used to control severe pain, was found in a team of dogs this year. While the Iditarod Trail Committee’s Board of Directors revised the rules to hold mushers accountable for positive drug tests after it was found that a team of dogs had been doped with a powerful, banned painkiller, no action has been taken to punish those responsible. Cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles because of doping—the Iditarod should follow that example instead of protecting dopers in a race that kills dogs, drugged or not.

Other sports have taken punitive action, and the failure to act here is an outright disgrace.

The reason mushers are using banned painkillers is clear: When dogs are forced to run up to 100 miles a day over hazardous ice and in blinding snowstorms, subzero temperatures, and biting winds, they wear their paws bloody, strain their muscles, sustain stress fractures, contract pneumonia, develop bleeding stomach ulcers, and damage their lungs. Cracking down on dopers may level the playing field, but it does nothing to ease the tremendous suffering of the dogs.

The Iditarod is murder on dogs—and as you know, five died in less than one week during this year’s race and more than 150 have died since the race began.

In light of these doping scandals and the race’s rising death toll, the Iditarod—as concerned members of the public and a growing number of former sponsors have made clear—must reinvent itself as a competition that celebrates human endurance and leaves the dogs out of it.


For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind