North

Yukon Quest relents for one disqualified musher, but not another

With the start of the international sled dog race less than two weeks away in Whitehorse, there's controversy over some entries.

Mushers withdrawn by officials for breaking rules on vet check in one case and inoculation in another

Controversy over involuntary race withdrawals has come less than two weeks before the start of the Yukon Quest sled dog race in Whitehorse. (CBC)

With the start of Yukon Quest sled dog race less than two weeks away in Whitehorse, there's controversy over several entries.

Two mushers were kicked out of the race over the weekend and another quit, but race officials have relented in one instance.

Michigan musher Ed Stielstra was withdrawn by Race Marshal Fabian Schmitz after Stielsta missed a veterinary check in Whitehorse on the weekend.

Musher Laura Neese, who trains at Stielstra's kennel, also missed the vet check.

But Schmitz said that as a race veteran, Neese has the right get the check done elsewhere. It was mandatory for rookie Stielstra, though.

After Stielstra was disqualified, Neese announced she was dropping out, said Schmitz.

He said the race's rules committee met Monday and offered Stielstra the option of paying a $1,000 fine instead of withdrawal.

Stielstra agreed, he said, and Neese also decided to rejoin the race.

Anger within the mushing community about the withdrawal had nothing do with the decision by officials to offer a compromise, Schmitz said.

"We want people in this race, that is the goal. We want to have as many people, of course, making it to the start line. That is the thing — we want him to be here," said Schmitz.

Alaska musher still out

Alaska-based musher Severin Cathry was also kicked out of the race. Cathry did not get his dogs inoculated against kennel cough, said Schmitz.

The Quest's head veterinarian, Nina Hansen, said the effects of the highly infectious respiratory disease are often mild, but can be deadly for some dogs.

"When debating this matter, we need to not only consider the dogs competing in the race, but the dogs living in communities along the trail, many of which have limited veterinary care and are likely not vaccinated for this (or any) infectious disease," she wrote in a statement.

Schmitz said the decision in Cathry's case is final, while Cathry said he's still hoping to convince race officials he made a mistake and should be allowed to compete.

Stielstra and Neese are on the road and could not be reached for comment.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Fabian Schmitz saying Laura Neese had dropped out of the race "in protest." In fact, he did not say that.
    Jan 25, 2017 12:10 PM CT

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