Iditarod's reigning rookie of the year disqualified from 2024 race for violating conduct standard

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The governing body of the world’s most famous sled dog race has disqualified the 2023 Iditarod rookie of the year from this year’s contest by citing a rule but not the specific infraction of it.

After an emergency meeting Monday, the Iditarod Trail Committee announced Eddie Burke Jr. has been disqualified from this year’s race, just days before the March 2 ceremonial start in Anchorage. The board cited a race rule which states all “Iditarod mushers will be held to a high standard of personal and professional conduct. Musher conduct that is recklessly injurious to the Iditarod, Iditarod competitors, sponsors or anyone associated with the race is strictly prohibited.”

It did not cite a specific reason for his removal, and a message sent to Iditarod President and CEO Rob Urbach on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

“Regarding Eddie Burke Jr., the ITC has issued its statement about Eddie Burke Jr. and has no other comments at this time," race spokesperson Shannon Noonan said in an email to The Associated Press.

Calls and emails to Burke, his kennel manager and the kennel were also not returned.

Earlier this month, Burke finished second in the Yukon Quest Alaska race and was named rookie of the year for that race as well. In last year’s Iditarod, his finished in seventh place to earn that race’s rookie honors.

Burke has been racing since 2021 and moved to Willow — where the Iditarod has its official competitive start every year the day after the ceremonial start — after working as a garbage truck driver and an amateur boxer.

He became interested in mushing when he and friends attended an Iditarod banquet as an intelligence mission since they were wagering on the race.

“I knew nothing about dog mushing, I went to this banquet with some friends because we were betting on Iditarod and we were basically there to do a recon mission and talk to mushers and, you know, see who had what and who was confident and that kind of thing,” he told Alaska Public Media last year.

He became friendly with mushers and decided to try it himself.


Associated Press research Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.