Head of UK Athletics speaks out following the doping allegations made against Salazar, who works with the national governing body as a consultant
UK Athletics (UKA) chairman Ed Warner has defended the decision not to suspend all ties with Mo Farah’s coach, Alberto Salazar, who has been the subject of doping allegations.
Speaking on the day that the national governing body detailed its planned review into the set-up which sees Salazar act as an unpaid consultant as well as coach to double Olympic champion Farah, Warner said “reputational” issues were not the top priority.
Salazar (pictured above) is expected soon to give a lengthy rebuttal to allegations made last week on the BBC’s Panorama programme and by US news organisation ProPublica. Among the claims is that documentation showed a 16-year-old Galen Rupp, who would go on to win Olympic 10,000m silver in 2012, was on testosterone in 2002 while being coached by Salazar, the head of the Nike Oregon Project (NOP).
Both Salazar and Rupp have denied any wrongdoing, while no allegations of doping have been made against Farah.
Warner on Friday responded to why UKA has not already cut off its relationship with the American coach and recommended Farah also pull out.
“Because he’s innocent until proven guilty,” said Warner, who stressed the priority was ensuring the federation’s “performance oversight group” of Jason Gardener, Dr Sarah Rowell and Anne Wafula-Strike reported back in its review by the first week in August. “This review is designed to take a few weeks – if it looked like it was going to take a year we might have to come up with a different outcome for practical purposes.
“He (Salazar) is an unpaid consultant of ours and we do have to respect that. It’s a matter of principle. There’s been a Panorama programme which has raised some very serious questions and Alberto is yet to provide his response to that.”
The purpose of the review is to establish if “confidence in the Oregon Project is well founded” with regards to Farah’s training set-up and the overall endurance programme.
Warner said: “It’s possible that for reputational reasons … that we make a decision to step away or recommend to Mo to step away but that’s a second go round. The first round is to look at the facts around risk (concerning the current set-up).”
He added: “I think it’s wrong to put the cart before the horse. Let’s look at the horse first, which are the facts around our arrangement, and then afterwards look at any reputational run-off.”
On Friday ProPublica revealed that since the programme it had heard from three more former athletes from Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project who had made allegations. The website said that that brought to 17 the number of former athletes and staff of the NOP who had revealed what they considered to have been inappropriate medical prescription use by Salazar.
UKA is leaving responsibility for investigations against Salazar to the relevant anti-doping authorities, although the policy of the World Anti-Doping Agency and US Anti-Doping Agency is not to confirm which individuals it is looking into.
The federation’s care in implementing Farah’s move to Oregon to train with Salazar has been called into question in light of several online archived media reports from the mid-Nineties and Salazar’s own autobiography suggesting he was coaching American athlete Mary Slaney when she failed a drugs test in 1996. The coach is expected to shortly clarify the exact arrangement.
Warner said on that issue: “Do I believe people did due diligence? Yes. Did they do good and effective due diligence? I don’t know. I’m not sitting here saying that everything that was done from a due diligence perspective was immaculate. I’m saying that right now it’s not my top priority. We’ll get to that. All of our efforts right now are focused on the review of current risk.”