- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Two-time Yukon Quest champion Hugh Neff will be ineligible to run the 2019 race because of dog care issues revealed by a necropsy of his dog that died in this year’s race.

The race organization announced Tuesday morning that examiners found Neff’s dog Boppy died of aspiration pneumonia caused by inhaling vomited stomach contents, but the dog also had other health issues.

The necropsy found the 4-year-old Boppy to have mild stomach ulcers, moderate intestinal inflammation, mild whipworm infestation, skeletal muscle necrosis, severe weight loss and muscle wasting.

Boppy died in a cabin about 45 miles (72 kilometers) short of the Yukon Quest halfway point in Dawson City.

Kathleen McGill, chair of the race’s rules committee, said the combination of health factors beyond Boppy’s cause of death led the committee to recommend the decision.

“This didn’t just all of this happen on the race, it was starting before the race,” McGill said. “This dog was in less-than-ideal body condition before it entered the race.”

She said the ulcers showed that the dog was not likely taking H2 blockers, which keep sled dogs from getting ulcers.

The specific restrictions on Neff are that he will be ineligible to race in the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race and the YQ300, a 300-mile (480-kilometer) race run by the same organization, in 2019. He will also be required to run the YQ300 before entering the 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) race in the future.

Neff will have 30 days to appeal the censure. He and his team won the 1,000-mile race in 2012 and 2016.

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