Athletes honoured by British Athletics Writers’ Association in London on Friday
Alberto Salazar at centre of doping allegationsJune 3, 2015
Coach of Mo Farah and Galen Rupp accused of violating anti-doping rules following a BBC investigation, while Panorama programme also includes doping allegations concerning Allan Wells
Alberto Salazar, the coach of a number of top athletes including Britain’s Mo Farah, has been accused of violating anti-doping rules.
A BBC investigation puts Salazar at the centre of doping allegations, including that he was involved in doping US 10,000m record-holder Galen Rupp in 2002 when Rupp was 16 years old.
Both Salazar and Rupp have denied any wrongdoing, while there is no suggestion that Farah has violated any rules.
After a career as a highly successful athlete himself, Salazar has gone on to become a top coach, with both Rupp and Farah among the American’s Nike Oregon Project (NOP) stable based in Portland, Oregon. Salazar has worked with double Olympic, world and European track champion Farah since 2011 and has coached Rupp, who won Olympic 10,000m silver behind Farah in 2012, for 14 years. Since 2013 he has also been hired by UK Athletics as a consultant to the national governing body’s endurance programme.
Although none of the Nike Oregon Project athletes has ever failed a drug test, the BBC reports to have heard claims about some of Salazar’s methods, including the use of banned steroids.
A BBC report read in part: “The BBC 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, though Usada does not confirm or deny investigations.”
The allegations formed part of a BBC Panorama documentary broadcast on Wednesday (June 3). The investigation into the Oregon Project is a collaboration between the BBC and US journalism organisation ProPublica. A BBC report by Mark Daly can be read here, while David Epstein’s ProPublica report is here.
The BBC documentary comes just a few days before Farah is set to compete at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix and although there is no suggestion that Farah has done anything wrong, questions about his coaching set-up are likely to dominate.
On Wednesday Farah was quoted by the BBC as saying: “I have not taken any banned substances and Alberto has never suggested that I take a banned substance.
“From my experience, Alberto and the Oregon Project have always strictly followed Wada rules and if there is ever a question seek guidance from Usada to ensure they are correctly interpreting Wada’s rules.”
Rupp was quoted as saying: “I am completely against the use of performance enhancing drugs. I have not taken any banned substances and Alberto has never suggested that I take a banned substance.”
The BBC report also included a statement from Salazar which quoted him as saying: “I believe in a clean sport and a methodical, dedicated approach to training and have never, nor ever will, endorse the use of banned substances with any of my athletes.”
Many current and former athletes were among those to give reaction online to the BBC documentary.
Jenny Meadows, the 2011 European indoor 800m champion who has been denied a medal or a higher podium place a total of seven times by athletes who later failed drugs tests or were implicated in doping scandals, wrote on Twitter: “Angry & tearful watching Panorama doping documentary. Sickening cheats pass doping tests! Questioning my motivation to carry on in sport!”
Angry & tearful watching Panorama doping documentary. Sickening cheats pass doping tests! Questioning my motivation to carry on in sport!
— Jenny Meadows (@JennyMeadows800) June 3, 2015
Kelly Sotherton, who won Olympic heptathlon bronze in 2004 and a world medal of the same colour in 2007, tweeted: “This @BBCPanorama has only just skimmed the surface. I hope its the start of something that helps towards #cleansport its not just Athletics”
Andy Vernon, who won European 10,000m silver and 5000m bronze behind winner Farah in Zurich last summer, wrote: “What I cant understand is how WADA can be handed a report on Rupp supposedly taking testerone (sic) from 2002 yet declines to act on it?”
While marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, who is one of the sport’s most vocal anti-doping campaigners, tweeted: “Very disturbing allegations tonight. Worrying that Blood Passport increasingly relied on by our sport apparently still has a long way to go.”
She added: “Lots of issues needing further investigation thrown up. #cleansport #WADA”
A statement from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) read in part: “We have carefully viewed the BBC’s Panorama programme which includes some allegations suggesting doping in athletics.
“Among these, the programme alleges practices relating to coach Alberto Salazar of the Nike Oregon Project in the United States. Any investigation will be a matter for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the IAAF, and the relevant information shall be passed to them.”
The WADA statement, which can be read in full here, also includes comment on micro-dosing, with BBC journalist Daly having himself embarked on a 14-week experiment involving micro-dosing EPO for the Panorama programme.
Meanwhile, a BBC investigation is also reported to have uncovered claims that 1980 Olympic 100m gold medallist Allan Wells used steroids while competing. Wells has denied the allegations.
The BBC documentary included allegations that Wells was supplied with an anabolic steroid by former Great Britain team doctor Jimmy Ledingham.