The folks who run the famous Iditarod dog race through Alaska have long had a policy of testing the dogs for illegal substances. Now the people riding behind the dogs -- called "mushers" -- will be subject to drug and alcohol testing.
That means three-time champion Lance Mackey will have to mush next year without using marijuana. Mackey is a throat cancer survivor, and has a medical marijuana card that allows him to use pot for medical purposes.
Mackey admits marijuana has helped him stay awake and focused through the 1,100-mile race, but he insists it doesn’t give him an edge.
“It isn’t the reason I’ve won three years in a row,” Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News. ”I think it’s a little bit ridiculous,” he said of the new policy. ”It is a dog race, not a human race. It doesn’t affect the outcome.”
Mackey doesn’t blame the Iditarod board for creating the new policy, but he contends he is being targeted by other mushers jealous of his three straight Iditarod titles.
The Iditarod has had an informal drug and alcohol policy since 1984, but they have never tested mushers before. Officials haven’t decided who will get tested, or when, where and how it will be done. “It might be random. It might be a group of mushers at a specific checkpoint,” said executive director Stan Hooley.
Despite his medical marijuana clearance, Mackey said he will not pursue a therapeutic use exemption; instead, he’ll just abstain for a while.
“I’m going to pee in their little cup,” he said. “And laugh in their face.”