Alberto Salazar, the head coach of Nike’s Oregon Project, was handed a four-year ban from his profession by the U.S. Anti-Doping Association on Monday.
The USADA’s decision to sideline Salazar comes just two days after NOP athlete Sifan Hassan won a gold medal in the 10,000m at the 2019 IAAF World Championships.
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Following a six-year review that included two evidentiary hearings and a post-hearing review process, the USADA determined that Salazar trafficked testosterone, a banned substance, tampered/attempted to tamper with the doping control process and administered a prohibited IV infusion.
Dr. Jeffrey Brown, a Houston-based endocrinologist who worked alongside Salazar as a paid consultant, has also received a four-year ban. The USADA determined he was guilty of tampering with patient records, administering an above-limit transfusion and abetting Salazar in trafficking testosterone.
“The athletes in these cases found the courage to speak out and ultimately exposed the truth,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a release. “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.”
Salazar issued a statement in response to the USADA ban, writing that he was “shocked by the outcome” and that he has endured “unjust, unethical and highly damaging treatment from USADA.”
“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,” he wrote.
Nike sent FN a statement supporting Salazar’s decision to appeal.
“Today’s decision had nothing to do with administering banned substances to any Oregon Project athlete. 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,” a spokesperson for the brand told FN. “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.”
The Oregon Project was founded in 2001 by Nike to promote American long-distance running. As an NOP coach, Salazar has worked with Olympic medalists such as Mo Farah and Matthew Centrowitz (both of whom have left the group). Current members include two-time Olympic gold medalist Galen Rupp and Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy.
USADA is the national anti-doping organization in the United States for Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, and Parapan American sport.
Nike did not immediately respond to FN’s request for comment.