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Alberto Salazar writes open letter denying doping claims

FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
Published Jun 25, 2015
Jun 25, 2015 IST

Farah (R) with coach Salazar (C) and Galen Rupp

Salazar, himself a highly decorated marathon runner, currently stands accused of doping several athletes who were under him at the Nike Oregon project, several of whom are well-known elite athletes. 

Among these athletes are some Olympic names – most prominently Mo Farah, who won two golds for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics. Also training under Salazar is American athlete Galen Rupp, who also participated in the London Games. Steve Magness, who was Salazar's second-in-command, stated during a BBC Panorama investigation that he had evidence proving that the coach had been doping Rupp since the latter had been a 16-year-old highschooler. 

During the investigation, several of Salazar’s athletes, among them the U.S.A’s most well-known female marathoners, Kara Goucher, also alleged that she had been recommended, as had several of her colleagues, to doctors with prescriptions for thyroid medication and testosterone injections, which they did not medically require. The anabolic steroid testosterone is banned in competition. Athletes allege that they were told that evidence would ‘leave their system’ in time for drug testing.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Farah had missed two of the three drug tests he was to take prior to the 2012 Olympics – one of which, he claimed, was because he ‘did not hear the doorbell ring.’ Had he missed the third, it would have jeopardised his participation at the games. 

Farah pulled out of the Birmingham Diamond League games in the wake of the allegations, saying he was suffering from fatigue and that it had been an ‘emotionally taxing’ time for him. He is yet to return to participation. Athletics UK released a statement vowing they were behind Farah, but would run their own independent tests to confirm without a shadow of a doubt that Farah had not been involved in doping. 

Salazar, for his part, and Rupp, both rubbished all allegations. 

The coach has now released a 12,000-word letter claiming his innocence, and that Rupp has never been involved in taking any form of banned substance. He asserted that all his athletes complied with USADA (the United States Anti-Doping Agency) regulations, and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) code was followed all through. All participants, Salazar said, complied by IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) rules when participating. 

Describing the allegations as “false”, Salazar said in a statement that he was “saddened” that the “....allegations have been allowed to run with little care for the carnage in their wake.”

Addressing the medication Rupp was alleged to have taken as a performance enhancer, Salazar said the athlete was a sufferer of Hashimoto’s disease, which is a thyroid disorder, and that the only medication he had been on was to address this and Rupp’s asthma.

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All athletes are allowed exemptions for medication they may need, and Salazar cites the Oregon project’s low use of these exemptions as proof that neither he nor the group are looking to circumvent any regulations.

Salazar is also a consultant with UK Athletics, who are currently conducting a review into the allegations. The BBC, who conducted the investigation, also stand firmly by the data they uncovered during their investigations, saying "We stand by our journalism and it is now for the relevant anti-doping authorities to investigate the allegations.

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