FAIRBANKS - Only 28 mushers signed up for the 2019 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on the first day, about half of the normal number.

The race, in its 47th year, has been beset by turmoil over its leadership, a positive drug test on a top team, and the loss of top sponsors. On Saturday, Dr. Morrie Craig, who has been in charge of canine drug testing for more than 25 years, resigned after being accused of threatening a musher.

Those signing up include three former champions: defending champ Joar Leifseth Ulsom and former champions Jeff King and Martin Buser. Interior mushers include Jessie Royer, Aliy Zirkle, Matt Hall, Jeff Deeter and Shaynie Traska of Fairbanks and Two Rivers; and Jessie Holmes of Nenana. 

The ceremonial start of the 2019 Iditarod takes place Saturday, March 2, at 10 a.m. in downtown Anchorage at the corner of Fourth Avenue and D Street.