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4-time Iditarod champ Lance Mackey out of 2017 race

Organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race say four-time champion and cancer survivor Lance Mackey has dropped out of next year's nearly 1,600-kilometre race because of health reasons.

Mackey, a cancer survivor, dropped out for health reasons, race organizers say

Mushing legend Lance Mackey is a four time winner of the Iditarod sled dog race, and a four time winner of the Yukon Quest. In 2001 he was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent extensive surgery and radiation treatment. (Pat Kane/Yukon Quest)

Organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race say four-time champion and cancer survivor Lance Mackey has dropped out of next year's nearly 1,600-kilometre race because of health reasons.

A race official says Mackey is hoping his withdrawal from next year's race will give him a chance to take better care of his health so he can be ready to compete again in 2018.

Mackey holds two of his dogs, Rev and Maple, who wear rose garlands, after Mackey's fourth consecutive Iditarod win, in Nome, Alaska in 2010. (AP Photo/Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen)

Race marshal Mark Nordman says Mackey has continued to struggle with hand circulation problems that were partly blamed for him scratching from this year's race across Alaska.

Mackey could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

​Mackey was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001 and underwent extensive surgery as well as radiation treatment and the loss of his salivary glands.

After returning to the sport he went on to become the only musher ever to win both the Iditarod and the 1,600-kilometre Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in the same year. It's a feat he has accomplished twice.

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