Track coach Alberto Salazar, who trained four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah and a number of other top runners, has been given a four-year ban in a case pursued by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
USADA said in a news release Monday that an arbitration panel decided on a four-year ban for Salazar and endocrinologist Jeffrey Brown for, among other violations, possessing and trafficking testosterone while working at the Nike Oregon Project (NOP), where they trained top runners.
Brown did consulting work for the NOP and was a personal physician for some of the runners.
A four-year USADA investigation began after a BBC report that detailed some of Salazar’s practices, which included infusions of a legal supplement called L-carnitine that is supposed to enhance athletic performance.
Oregon project coach Alberto Salazar (right) and Galen Rupp during training session ahead of the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Athletics. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)
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The BBC said marathoner Kara Goucher and a former NOP coach, Steve Magness, were among the witnesses who provided evidence for the case. USADA said it received information from 30 witnesses.
UK Athletics had done its own investigation into Salazar and given Farah, who runs for Britain, the OK to continue working with him. Farah parted ways with Salazar in 2017, saying he wanted to move back home.
Salazar also coached 2012 Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp. Salazar, Rupp and Farah have, in the past, strongly denied any wrongdoing.
USADA said it relied on more than 2,000 exhibits between the two cases and that proceedings included nearly 5,800 pages of transcripts.
“The athletes in these cases found the courage to speak out and ultimately exposed the truth,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said. “While acting in connection with the Nike Oregon Project, Mr. Salazar and Dr. Brown demonstrated that winning was more important than the health and well-being of the athletes they were sworn to protect.”
In response to the four-year ban, Salazar released a statement Monday night:
“I am shocked by the outcome today. Throughout this six-year investigation my athletes and I have endured unjust, unethical and highly damaging treatment from USADA. This is demonstrated by the misleading statement released by Travis Tygart stating that we put winning ahead of athlete safety. This is completely false and contrary to the findings of the arbitrators, who even wrote about the care I took in complying with the World Anti-Doping code:
“The Panel notes that the Respondent does not appear to have been motivated by any bad intention to commit the violations the Panel found. In fact, the Panel was struck by the amount of care generally taken by Respondent to ensure that whatever new technique or method or substance he was going to try was lawful under the World Anti-Doping Code, with USADA’s witness characterizing him as the coach they heard from the most with respect to trying to ensure that he was complying with his obligations.
“I have always ensured the WADA code is strictly followed. The Oregon Project has never and will never permit doping. I will appeal and look forward to this unfair and protracted process reaching the conclusion I know to be true. I will not be commenting further at this time.”