Following the recent Iditarod doping scandal, which saw four-time winner Dallas Seavey withdraw from the 2018 race, another musher has also dropped out.
Michigan-based musher Laura Neese, who races for the team Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Racing, will not participate in the race and instead focus on the 2018 Yukon Quest, the team posted on their Facebook page Tuesday night.
This announcement came just a day after the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) released Dallas Seavey as the musher who had four dogs test positive for banned substances following the 2017 race.
Seavey denied administering any banned substances to his dogs and withdrew from the race.
Nature’s Kennel cited the way the positive drug test case was handled as the reason for opting out of the upcoming dog sled race.
“We have followed this very closely and with the very few facts that we have been able to obtain, we feel it is best to temporarily step away from a race in which we truly love participating,” the post said.
Nature’s Kennel is owned by Ed and Tasha Stielstra, with Ed competing in the Iditarod eight times as well as the 2017 Yukon Quest.
Neese finished 42nd overall in her first Iditarod in 2017 and has previously raced in the Quest twice.
In 2016, Neese placed 13th overall and won the sportsmanship award. Neese didn’t finish the 2017 race, stopping in Pelly Crossing.
As of Thursday morning, the Yukon Quest has 24 registered mushers listed on their website, with Neese not yet on the list.
“We take pride in the care that mushers provide to their animals in this sport,” the Facebook post said. “The fact that the ITC took over six months to release the results of a positive drug test for a performance enhancing drug is not acceptable.”
The group offered some ways for the race to work on dealing with cases of banned substance use.
“Mushers and race organizations can work together to minimize the potential of sabotage, review violations with unbiased panels of experts, and also apply stiff penalties to offenders,” the post said.
Neese is the first musher to publicly withdraw from the Iditarod following the case and Seavey’s withdrawal.
Seavey’s father — and last year’s Iditarod winner — Mitch Seavey is currently still registered for the upcoming race.