Iditarod champion Brent Sass disqualified amid allegations of sexual assault

Wasilla, Alaska - Claims of violence against women have caused upheaval after the Iditarod Trail Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to disqualify 2022 champion Brent Sass following multiple sexual assault accusations.

Former Iditarod champion Brent Sass has been disqualified from the 2024 race amid allegations of sexual assault.
Former Iditarod champion Brent Sass has been disqualified from the 2024 race amid allegations of sexual assault.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The Trail Committee announced sled dog racing athlete Sass' disqualification Thursday in a curt press release.

The decision is based on race rule 53, which states: "Musher conduct that is recklessly injurious to the Iditarod, Iditarod competitors, sponsors or anyone associated with the race is strictly prohibited."

Sass' disqualification comes almost four months after the Trail Committee received a letter from a Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Alaska official, Alaska Public Media reported.

Caitlin Clark drops three-word message for new WNBA team
Athletes Caitlin Clark drops three-word message for new WNBA team

The letter, written on behalf of multiple women, accuses Sass of sexual assault over the course of a decade.

Iditarod governing body disqualifies Sass and reinstates another musher

Brent Sass won the Iditarod dog sled race in 2022.
Brent Sass won the Iditarod dog sled race in 2022.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Brent Sass (44) is a former Iditarod champion, winning the race in 2022. His disqualification comes just days before this year's event begins on March 2.

Sass has not yet been charged with any crimes.

The race’s governing body has emailed competitors addressing accusations of violence and abuse of women within the mushing community, writing, "The ITC Board cannot tolerate such conduct by anyone affiliated with the Iditarod."

Caitlin Clark officially joins WNBA as first pick in 2024 Draft!
Athletes Caitlin Clark officially joins WNBA as first pick in 2024 Draft!

On Monday, the Trail Committee disqualified musher Eddie Burke Jr. for a conduct violation. Burke had been facing felony and misdemeanor charges for allegedly assaulting his former girlfriend. However, the charges were dropped when his girlfriend refused to participate in the case, as per the Associated Press.

Burke was reinstated into the race on Friday.

The Iditarod is a 1,000-mile dog sled race across the Alaska wilderness. With Burke's reinstatement and Sass' disqualification, 39 mushers are set to compete this year.

Brent Sass denies the sexual assault allegations

Brent Sass at the end of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.
Brent Sass at the end of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Brent Sass has denied the allegations of sexual assault.

In a press conference on Tuesday, he called them "untrue" and "made up," claiming the accusers "want to ruin my career," according to Alaska Public Media.

On Friday, Sass took to social media to say, "I am beyond disappointed with the decision the Iditarod has reached to disqualify me."

"The anonymous accusations that have been made against me are completely false," he added.

The athlete also shared a pic of an undated letter sent to the race's board, the wording of which suggests he was asked to voluntarily withdraw. He declined, saying: "I cannot afford to back out."

Alaska has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the nation.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

More on Athletes: