Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) The 46th annual Iditarod begins this weekend amid controversy from a failed drug test and other complaints about leadership.
The race also lost a major sponsor Wells Fargo and faced more complaints from animal rights activists who claim dogs are run to death or left with serious injury and shorter life spans.
Four time winner Dallas Seavey boycotted the race this year to compete in Norway. His father Mitch Seavey is the defending champion.
The Iditarod could not prove that Dallas administered the drugs to his dogs and offered no punishment. More stringent rules are now in place to hold mushers accountable if there is a positive drug test.
Five dogs died last year which raised the ire of animal rights groups. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to protest the race in person for the first time. They plan to be present at both the start and finish lines. The group claims more than 150 dogs have died due to Iditarod.
Trail conditions are expected to be at or near perfect for the race this year. They plan to take a more southern route for the first time since 2013 when the race begins Sunday.