It's not the typical scandal of drugs in sports. Four dogs that competed in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska, in March tested positive for a banned opioid pain reliever.

The dogs were part of a team raced by four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey. Seavey has denied the allegation and has withdrawn from the 2018 race in protest.

Originally race officials declined to identify the musher involved, but they relented after dozens of mushers demanded that the identity be made public. A statement from the Iditarod Official Finishers Club was signed by 83 current and former competitors who called for the musher to be named within 72 hours, according to the Associated Press.

Seavey released a statement via a YouTube video, saying he believes he has been "thrown under the bus."

"I have done absolutely nothing wrong," Seavey says in the video. "I have spent the last 10 years becoming the best musher I possibly can...I have never knowingly given any banned substance to my dogs."

Seavey says he cooperated with race officials, working with them for several months trying to explain how his dogs could have tested positive for the banned substance, a pain reliever called tramadol.

"I believe this was given to my dogs maliciously," he said. "That's one of the options. I think that is the most likely option. There are numerous ways that could have been done."

Questions swirl

Iditarod mushing dogs howling Only the first 20 teams to finish are tested for banned substances. (Photo: Green Mountain Exposure/Shutterstock)

This is the first time since dog drug testing started in 1994 that a canine competitor has tested positive for a banned substance, according to the AP.

Seavey's team was tested six hours after finishing the race in Nome, officials said. Investigators estimate the drug could have been administered up to 15 hours before the test. Only the first 20 teams to reach Nome are tested.

Questions swirled about whether a competitor might have drugged the dogs, but Iditarod board member and musher Aaron Burmeister told the AP he wasn't buying that theory.

"As a musher, why would another musher give their competitor a performance-enhancing drug?" he said.

After Seavey was named, Iditarod Official Finishers Club president and fellow competitor Wade Marrs told the AP that he doesn't believe Seavey intentionally administered the drugs to his dogs. Marrs said he believes Seavey is too smart and has too much integrity to give drugs before an expected test.

"I don't really know what to think at the moment," Marrs said. "It's a very touchy situation."

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.