Sebastian Coe orders athletes to sever all links with Alberto Salazar

• Disgraced Salazar has been banned for four years
• Coe defends his relationship with American coach

The IAAF president, Sebastian Coe, has told athletes coached by Alberto Salazar they must sever their links with immediate effect after the American was banned for four years for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct”.

Coe also accepted that the US Anti-Doping Agency’s case against the legendary distance coach, who guided Mo Farah to six world titles and four Olympic gold medals when the Briton was at the Nike Oregon Project, had been “very serious” but defended sticking up for his friend in the past.

“When you have been in the sport as long as I have, friendships and relationships can go back a long way,” said Coe, who earlier on Tuesday ordered Salazar to be stripped of his accreditation at the world championships in Doha.

“Alberto and I held world records at the same time. The charges laid by Usada were really serious and we are now in business mode. The Athletics Integrity Unit has already been in contact with those athletes and they are being asked to sever those relationships.”

Those who will have to change coaches include Sifan Hassan, the world 10,000m champion. When Coe was asked whether the ban reflected poorly on Farah, he said: “Athletes have to have complete and total trust in their coaches and if they don’t the relationship will fray,” he said. “And if a coach is accused of something an athlete has to ask really detailed questions. You have to assume athletes do that.”

Alberto Salazar has had his accreditation revoked at the world championships in Doha.
Alberto Salazar has had his accreditation revoked at the world championships in Doha. Photograph: No Credit

However Steve Magness, a former member of the Nike Oregon Project, a group that was initially set up to help US endurance athletes beat the best runners from Africa but later recruited Farah, said the British athlete should face questions for deciding to stick with Salazar for two years after Usada launched its investigation in 2015.

“People make mistakes but they have to own up and that’s where Farah and a lot of other people who stuck it out have to answer questions,” he said.

Jeffrey Brown, who worked as a paid consultant endocrinologist for Nike on performance enhancement and served as a physician for many of Salazar’s athletes, also received a four-year ban. In a statement, Travis Tygart, the CEO of US Anti-Doping, praised the numerous whistleblowers who had come forward and condemned Salazar and Brown’s behaviour.

“The athletes in these cases found the courage to speak out and ultimately exposed the truth,” he added. “While acting in connection with the Nike Oregon Project, Mr Salazar and Dr Brown demonstrated that winning was more important than the health and wellbeing of the athletes they were sworn to protect.” But the 61-year-old Salazar said he was “shocked” by the outcome and would appeal. “The Oregon Project has never and will never permit doping,” he said. “Throughout this six-year investigation my athletes and I have endured unjust, unethical and highly damaging treatment from Usada.”

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Farah was with Salazar for nearly seven years during which time he went from being just outside elite level to virtually unbeatable. He stuck with his famed coach after allegations against Salazar first surfaced in a BBC and ProPublica report in 2015 and left only in 2017. At the time, Farah denied his decision was connected to the doping claims. Usada first brought doping charges against Salazar and Brown in June 2017 in a court battle that was heard behind closed doors. Meanwhile, Nike said that it would back Salazar’s appeal and that Usada’s decision had “nothing to do with administering banned substances to any Oregon Project athlete”.

Sebastian Coe has ordered Alberto Salazar to be stripped of his accreditation at the world championships in Qatar.
Sebastian Coe has ordered Alberto Salazar to be stripped of his accreditation at the world championships in Qatar. Photograph: Ali Haider/EPA

“As the panel noted, they were struck by the amount of care Alberto took to ensure he was complying with the world anti-doping code. We support Alberto in his decision to appeal and wish him the full measure of due process that the rules require. Nike does not condone the use of banned substances in any manner.”

Nike is facing questions after emails released by the US Anti-Doping Agency revealed the sportswear company’s chief executive Mark Parker was briefed on Salazar’s experiments to determine whether the use of topical testosterone cream would trigger a positive doping test that were conducted in a laboratory at Nike’s headquarters.

On a separate occasion Salazar also wrote to Lance Armstrong to recommend he try the amino acid L-carnitine when he was training for an Ironman. “Lance, call me asap! We have tested it and it’s amazing! All completely legal and natural. You will finish the Iron Man in about 16 minutes less while taking this.”

Armstrong said in an email to the Wall Street Journal that he never tested or tried L-carnitine.

Contributor

Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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