Alberto Salazar, the man who helped coach Mo Farah to four Olympic gold medals, has had his four-year ban upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after being found guilty of doping offenses.
Salazar, 63, ran the Nike Oregon Project which was designed to help bolster American long-distance running until its closure in 2019 after he was linked to doping violations.
He had appealed the penalty imposed on him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) but will now serve the remainder of his ban along with physician and endocrinologist Dr Jeffrey Brown, a partner of Salazar’s whose appeal was also dismissed.
In a statement released Thursday, CAS said that both Salazar and Brown had “committed a number of anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) and has confirmed the four-year bans imposed on them“.
Salazar was the longtime coach of British distance runner Mo Farah, whom he helped towards his Olympic medal tally as well as six world championship titles.
Farah, however, was not implicated in the rulings against Salazar, with the CAS nothing that “none of the ADRVs directly affected athletic competition, and that there was no evidence put before the CAS as to any effect on athletes competing at the elite level within the Oregon Project.
“However, the panel was satisfied that the rules have been properly applied, and that, on the basis of the ADRVs found by the CAS Panel, the sanctions have been determined in accordance with the relevant version of the WADA Anti-Doping Code.”
The CAS determination found Cuban-born Salazar culpable on three offences – possession of testosterone, “complicity” related to Brown’s use of a prohibited method and tampering with the doping control process.
In addition to athletes in the United States, the Nike Oregon Project began taking on international runners including Farah and Dutch star Sifan Hassan, but a 2015 investigation by the BBC led to serious questions about the group’s training methods and led to the launch of an independent investigation by USADA – and in 2019 was found to have illegally trafficked testosterone as well as using an outlawed method of IV infusion among other complaints.
Salazar has not been found guilty of doping any of the athletes under his control. Farah left the Oregon Project in 2017.
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Travis Tygart, chief executive of USADA said in 2019 that whistleblowers revealing Salazar’s actions “found the courage to speak out and ultimately exposed the truth. While acting in connection with the Nike Oregon Project, Salazar and Dr Brown demonstrated that winning was more important than the health and wellbeing of the athletes.“
Salazar, however, offered up a stern defense to the allegations: “My athletes and I have endured unjust, unethical and highly damaging treatment from USADA,” he said, also adding that he was “shocked” at the outcome of the investigation.