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Mo Farah coach at the center of doping allegations

Alberto Salazar, a prolific US based runner and the coach of American champion Galen Rupp as well as Farah, is embroiled in allegations that he has been doping athletes.

Farah(L), winning silver at the London Olympics. Here with Coach Salazar (C) and American athlete Galen Rupp, also coached by Salazar

American Alberto Salazar, one of the world’s most well-known athletics coaches is at the centre of allegations that he is involved in doping. BBC Panorama conducted an investigation into the coach, who is himself a former athlete, and released a statement saying that it “.. is aware of at least seven athletes or staff associated with the NOP who say they have gone to the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) with their concerns, although USADA does not confirm or deny investigations.”

Several people associated with Salazar, athletes as well as his own staff, have come forward with information.

Cuban-born Salazar emigrated to the United States as a child and was a prolific runner in his youth, having participated in several New York City Marathons. His run at the 1982 Boston Marathon is well-known: he collapsed of exhaustion at the finish line, with his run being described as a ‘duel in the sun’.

The winner of the 2013 Coaching Achievement Award for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), Salazar currently heads the Nike Oregon Project. 

Salazar coaches American athlete Galen Rupp, part of the Nike Oregon Project, which is an inititative by the shoe manufacturer to promote distance running in the United States of America, a group which also includes iconic British athlete Mo Farah, who currently holds World, European and Olympic records in all events from the 5000m to the 10,000m.

Rupp, a silver medallist, currently holds the US 10,000m record, and there had been claims that Salazar was involved in doping him in 2002. 

Both Rupp and Salazar have denied all allegations levelled against them, and there is so far no evidence to suggest that Mo Farah is in any way involved in doping. 

A colleague of Salazar at the Nike project, a man named Steve Magness, said he saw paperwork that seemed to indicate Galen Rupp was on ‘testosterone medication’ and questioned Salazar about it, with the former dismissing it as a ‘mistake’. Magness went to the US ADA with his information, but Salazar publicly denied wrongdoing, saying that Rupp had been on a ‘legal nutritional supplement’ named Testoboost.

Kara Goucher at the US Marathon Olympic Trials in 2012

Several athletes who have trained under Salazar, including US athletes Kara and Adam Goucher, who were part of the Oregon Project, have also alleged wrondgoing. Salazar is apparently said to have told Kara to take thyroid prescription drug Cytomel to lose weight following the birth of her son, an allegation he denied, saying “No athlete within the Oregon Project uses a medication against the spirit of the sport we love.”

More runners who have chosen to remain anonymous have come forward with statements that Salazar had suggested they ‘visit’ endocrinologists and doctors known to him to be prescribed testosterone and thyroid drugs they did not need, and to assuage the athletes’ fears of being caught, Salazar and the doctor both told them not to worry, and that they would ‘keep it in the normal range’. 

They described it as being “what Alberto does.”

Farah denied any knowledge, telling the BBC that he had “.... not taken any banned substances and Alberto has never suggested that I take a banned substance.”

Investigations are currently ongoing.

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