ShareThis Page
Latrobe attorney, Iditarod record-holder on dog-doping: ‘There should be repercussions’ |

Latrobe attorney, Iditarod record-holder on dog-doping: ‘There should be repercussions’

Patrick Varine
| Tuesday, October 24, 2017 12:42 p.m
Attorney Tim Hewitt of Unity broke his own 20-day record in the human Iditarod. It was his ninth finish in Nome. He completed his ninth Iditarod — 1,000 miles on foot.
Submitted Tim and Loreen Hewitt of Unity have returned from the Iditarod. The race director sent a snow machine to rescue Loreen, whose fingers were frostbitten enough that she might lose the top of her thumb.

Tim Hewitt of Unity knows how grueling it is to complete the Iditarod Trail Invitational: he is the current record-holder for finishing the northern route on foot.

And he doesn’t have sympathy for cheaters.

“If it’s a banned substance, there should be repercussions for that,” Hewitt said of accusations recently leveled against four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey, who on Monday denied that he administered banned drugs to his dogs in this year’s race and said he has withdrawn from the 2018 race in protest of the allegation.

The Iditarod Trail Committee identified him as the musher who had four dogs test positive for tramadol, a banned opioid pain reliever after finishing the race last March in Nome, according to The Associated Press.

Hewitt, a Latrobe attorney, said he hadn’t spoken to anyone specifically regarding the allegations, but “the dogs are the athletes,” he said. “So I don’t really see any distinction between that and drug-testing humans in a human-powered race.”

Participants traversing the trail on foot are not tested, Hewitt said.

“But it wouldn’t surprise me to see that coming, maybe in all sports,” he said.

Veteran Alaskan journalist Craig Medred, who has covered the Iditarod for years, wrote on his blog that according to Iditarod officials, “Seavey denied giving the drug to four dogs, and argued it made no sense for him to (do) so because he didn’t think tramadol would provide a competitive advantage.”

Hewitt said he is not so sure.

“To me, reading it as an outsider, Tramadol causes the dogs to have a better recovery period,” he said. “In their race, there’s a mandatory holdover about 77 miles from the finish line. So getting the dogs some extra rest before that final stretch, tactically, I suppose would let you run them hard — really, really hard — to the final safety rest and then run them hard right into (the finish line in) Nome.”

According to an Oct. 9 press release from the Iditarod committee, Seavey told race officials that it made no sense for him to administer the drug to his dogs so near the end of the race, knowing that they would be tested. Officials ultimately chose not to sanction Seavey — they noted in the press release that they could not prove he intended to cheat — but rather to rewrite their canine drug testing rule to be less ambiguous.

“I think there are probably a lot of questions and a basis for legal challenges,” Hewitt said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Patrick at 412-871-8627, or via Twitter .

Categories: Westmoreland
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.