Nike Oregon Project and Salazar doping allegations
Today, via print and television, numerous allegations were made against former IAAF Coach of the Year, Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project regarding possible flouting of TUE rules and blatant attempts to game the blood-passport system.
If you haven’t read the Pro Publica article that came out today it is a must read
My initial thoughts:
Suspicions surrounding the NOP and Salazar are nothing new, however, statements from Steve Magness, Kara Goucher, Adam Goucher and several anonymous former associates of Salazar are certainly a major step forwards. Some of the documents and photos provided are also quite damning, but only add to what was already known, or suspected.
It remains to be seen if the forthcoming investigation will lead to the fall of Salazar alone, or of the entire NOP. We know from the recent FIFA scandal that initial investigations by a lone journalist can snowball into a far-reaching expose, but at present Salazar seems to be the central figure, with significantly less importance being placed on the athletes themselves.
Kiwi Olympian John Henwood is the assistant coach for Mary Cain, who just last week announced a departure from the Portland-based training group to resume training back in her home state of New York. Will Henwood’s involvement be scrutinised along with the rest of the NOP, or is he safely removed from Salazar by distance and by his relatively recent inclusion on the NOP Coaching staff?
This list of current and former NOP members is huge, and shows the potential magnitude if the scandal is as deep as some rumours and statements suggest:
Amy Yoder Begley
Matthew Centrowitz, Jr.
(List edited to exclude Bowerman and Portland Track Club athletes)
Nick Willis has posted on Twitter suggesting that athletes need to be aware of the possible associations of their coaches, managers and agents and that connections with suspicious individuals could lead to questioning of their own performances.
Considering that there are two high profile NZ athletes who are currently signed to one of the less-reputable agents in world athletics, and a Kiwi Commonwealth Games medalist has previously worked with a European agent who had connections to banned athletes, perhaps Athletics NZ needs to be taking Nick’s advice and black-listing agents/managers/coaches who are less than 100% squeaky clean?
Q + A with David Epstein – Reporter who collaborated on the Pro Publica story
Cheers Paul MacDermid for the video
BBC Documentary above if this link disappears I will source an alternative one.
Just watched the doco. My thoughts are:
- the allegations raise serious questions, but at this stage are allegations – there is no ‘smoking gun’, just questions yet to be answered;
- the allegations are only against some, not all of the NOP athletes and staff. So we have no reason at this stage to believe that cheating is endemic to the whole NOP;
- BBC takes its journalism ethics seriously and would not throw these allegations about without believing it had enough proof from its sources to air them; and
- with that last point in mind the inability to Salazar and Rupp to give simple answers to simple questions is the most damning part of the documentary. Rather than generically denying everything (are they seriously saying everyone who testified against them is part of a conspiracy of lies?) they need to front up with explanations for each of the individual allegations and explain their side of the story.
Lauren Fleshman speaks about her experiences with Alberto Salazar and TUE’s and why she headed in a different route.
Elite distance runner Lauren Fleshman says that Salazar helped her get treatment for asthma, but she became squeamish when he suggested that she use medication in a different manner than the doctor instructed. Fleshman, 33, won five NCAA titles while at Stanford University, and won U.S. titles in the 5K in 2006 and 2010. She is a prominent figure in American running, not only by virtue of her on-track accomplishments, but also because she coaches, writes “The Fast Life” column for Runner’s World, is active on social media, and co-founded two businesses related to training and health.
Fleshman was previously part of a Nike-sponsored team, but was never coached by Salazar. She spoke with ProPublica reporter David Epstein about her experience seeking medical help from Salazar.
Guide to the doping allegations against the Nike Oregon Project!!
A quick look at developments in the ongoing story.
On June 3, a BBC documentary and concurrent ProPublica article alleged that Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar encouraged the team’s runners to take prescription drugs for which they had no medical need in the hope that they would gain a competitive edge.
In the reports, former Oregon Project assistant coach Steve Magness and former Oregon Project runner Kara Goucher described incidents they said abused the system of therapeutic use exemptions, or TUEs, which allow athletes to take for medical reasons prescription medications normally not allowed by anti-doping rules.
After the reports appeared, Salazar affirmed his belief “in a clean sport and hard work” and charged that the reporters had been “used by individuals with agendas and have engaged in such inaccurate and unfounded journalism.” Salazar has said he will comment publicly at length, and with exculpatory details, about the charges leveled against him. A time and venue for Salazar’s rebuttal have not been announced.
Since the initial reports, there have been near-daily developments. Here’s a quick look at the main ones.
A June 12 article by ProPublica reporter David Epstein raised to 17 the number of athletes and Oregon Project staffers who have described to Epstein what they considered to be inappropriate prescription drug use orchestrated by Salazar. Speaking anonymously, two former members recounted being advised to run hard immediately before an asthma test to increase the chance of getting a prescription inhaler.
To read the full story check out the RunnersWorld.com Article
And another article, this time with quotes from a former official who vetted TUE applications in the 80’s and routinely denied Salazar for bogus TUE applications.
Catlin, who developed America’s first anti-doping facility, says he was initially alarmed by Salazar’s conduct when he was a member of both the US Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee in the 1980s – a time when Salazar was a professional long-distance runner.
He claims that Salazar would repeatedly attempt to apply for medical exemptions – later known as TUEs – to use restricted treatments for conditions that Catlin deemed him not to suffer from. “I used to be on the board that reviewed TUEs for the US Olympic Committee so if someone wanted a TUE they would write it up and I would review it,” Catlin says.
“The issue for me with Salazar has always been that he tried to get a TUE for all kinds of things. He was looking for TUEs where I didn’t think there was any reason and I denied all of them. It didn’t make any sense to me and I simply thought to myself that this is a person who is looking to try to find an edge some way or another. And so I said no.”
And the Salazar Response:
And now a brief response from Kara Goucher:
And also the response from Steve Magness:
He is an excellent review of the allegations against Alberto Salazar and the responses he has provided, along with some of the gaps that still exist
Intreview with Kara Goucher after her race the the USATF Champs:
Mo Farah: UK Athletics finds ‘no evidence of impropriety’
A UK Athletics review into doping claims against Mo Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar has found no evidence of wrongdoing by Britain’s double Olympic champion.
The BBC’s Panorama programme accused Salazar of practising doping techniques with other athletes, which he denies.
There is no suggestion that Farah, 32, has been involved in doping.
UK Athletics added there was no reason to question Farah’s training regime at Salazar’s Oregon Project base.
American Salazar has worked as a consultant for British Athletics since 2013.
In a statement, UK Athletics said it was announcing the initial findings of “the first and most vital objective of the review”, but that a full report would be made public some time after next month’s World Championships in Beijing.
It said none of the “extensive information” supplied to the review panel contained “any evidence of impropriety” by Farah or gave them reason to “question the appropriateness of the input” into his preparation given by Salazar’s team.
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