Assistant Coach, Former Athletes Accuse Alberto Salazar of Cheating

Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar celebrates with Galen Rupp (left) and Mo Farah after they earned silver and gold medals, respectively, in the 10,000-meter run at the 2012 Olympics in London. Photo: PhotoRun.net

A joint investigative work by BBC TV and ProPublica.org is reporting that several former Nike-sponsored athletes coached by Alberto Salazar and a former assistant coach in the Oregon Project elite training program have accused Salazar of cheating to enhance his runners’ performances.

Stories that broke this morning on ProPublica.org and BBC.com, and a separate report that will be broadcast on BBC One at 4 p.m. ET alleges that Salazar experimented with testosterone and pressured athletes to use prescription medications they didn’t need to gain a performance benefit.

The online article, written by former Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein, quotes two-time U.S. Olympian Kara Goucher and former Oregon Project assistant coach Steve Magness and paints a picture of a variety of “win-at-all-costs” efforts, alleging that the Salazar-led program has been experimenting with various medications and known performance-enhancing drugs.

The story also says six other former Oregon Project athletes and staff members have privately spoken with the U.S Anti-Doping Agency.

Salazar denied any World Anti-Doping Agency rules have been broken and said that he always asked USADA if he had questions. In the ProPublica story, Salazar was quoted as saying he “never coached an athlete to manipulate testing procedures or undermine the rules that govern our sport. No athlete within the Oregon Project uses a medication against the spirit of the sport we love.”

Wednesday’s episode of the British newsmagazine television program “Panorama” will explore doping allegations in track and field and will include a segment about Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project program based on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Ore.

To date, no IAAF or USATF sanctions have been levied against Salazar or any of the Oregon Project athletes, nor has the World Anti-Doping Agency or U.S. Anti-Doping Agency appeared to have investigated Salazar. A recent thread about Salazar and his athletes was a report about the confusion and clarification of L-Carnitine injections to some of his athletes. (Read more about that here from this LetsRun thread.)

Reported by British investigative journalist Mark Daly, “Catch Me if You Can” is a one-hour show that will include several segments about performance-enhancing drug use at the top level of track and field. The show is expected to include a segment about British Olympic 100-meter champion Alan Wells (which the sprinter has already spoken out against), as well as a segment about Daly’s report on his own performance-enhancing drug use, and how drug tests did not detect his EPO use. According to the BBC, Daly “goes on a journey investigating the world of doping, and in order to truly understand the world he’s entering, the reporter becomes a doper himself.”

The show is also expected to look into the coaching of Salazar, who has headed up the Oregon Project since 2001. Salazar, a 1984 U.S. Olympic marathoner and three-time New York City Marathon champion in the early 1980s, is a former American record-holder at several distances from 5,000 meters to the marathon. He has coached numerous world-class athletes in the Nike-sponsored Oregon Project—among them Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Dan Browne, Adam Goucher, Kara Goucher, Dathan Ritzenhein, Mary Cain, Amy Begley, Cam Levins and Jordan Hasay.

Farah was a double gold-medal winner in the 5,000 and 10,000 at the 2012 Olympics in London, while Rupp was a silver medalist in the 10,000 at the same Olympics. Salazar has been coaching Rupp, the American record-holder in the 10,000, since he was a record-setting high school runner in Portland. Kara Goucher, a two-time U.S. Olympian, earned a bronze medal in the 10,000 at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan.

Several athletes have left Salazar or retired in recent years, including Adam and Kara Goucher, Browne, Webb, Begley and Ritzenhein.

Adam and Kara Goucher were interviewed for the show about their personal experiences with Salazar and the Oregon Project, while Daly also apparently gathered input from other sources with connections to the program.

“Panorama” is the BBC’s version of “60 Minutes,” the popular CBS-TV news magazine in the U.S.

The show is expected to be available for viewing online at the BBC website after it airs on Wednesday.

 

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