Morrie Craig, the Oregon State University professor who is fighting his termination for sexual harassment and bullying allegations, is facing a fresh controversy in Alaska, where he serves as head of the drug testing program for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The Iditarod Trail Committee, which organizes the 1,000-mile race, is investigating claims by musher Wade Marrs that Craig approached him before the start of the race on Sunday and threatened to reveal the results of a 2017 drug test that found trace amounts of a banned substance in urine samples from Marrs’ dogs.
Craig, a veterinary toxicologist who has administered the Iditarod drug testing program for 25 years, classified the incident as a misunderstanding.
“I didn’t threaten him in any way,” Craig told the Gazette-Times on Thursday.
Rather, Craig said, he was trying to alert Marrs that his name was likely to come out as the musher whose dogs tested positive for the banned chemical and to reassure him that the levels detected were far too low to be considered a violation.
Marrs serves as president of the Iditarod Official Finishers’ Club, which has criticized Craig over his finding that the dog team of last year’s second-place finisher tested positive for a banned painkiller, according to reports in the Anchorage Daily News.
On Tuesday, the Iditarod Trail Committee issued a statement that called Craig’s remarks “ill-timed at best.” The committee said it was investigating the matter and evaluating Craig’s role with the Iditarod.
Committee spokeswoman Sarah Erkmann Ward said on Thursday that the investigation was expected to conclude in the next 24 to 48 hours.
“They’re in the midst of it right now,” she said. “They’re still gathering all the facts.”
OSU initiated termination proceedings against Craig on Oct. 30, after a faculty committee ruled he had violated university policy by bullying two students and sexually harassing one of the students and a faculty member.
Craig, who denies those claims, took the matter to court, and a Benton County judge has ordered the university to halt the termination proceedings while he reviews the record. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for April 3.