After a four-year investigation, the coach was found to be “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping.”
- Alberto Salazar, the head coach of the Nike Oregon Project, was banned four years for trafficking banned performance-enhancing drugs to his athletes.
- The ban comes after a four-year investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and it also bans endocrinologist Dr. Jeffrey Brown for tampering with the doping control process.
- Salazar, 61, is legendary in running and has coached many notable athletes, including Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, and Jordan Hasay.
- In a statement on the Oregon Project website, Salazar said he was “shocked” by the outcome, the Oregon Project “has never and will never permit doping,” and he will appeal.
Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown, a Houston endocrinologist, have been banned four years “for orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping,” as first reported by the BBC.
The decision was announced Tuesday night by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The ban begins immediately, even with several members of the Oregon Project still competing in the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar. After the announcement, Salazar’s accreditation for the meet was revoked.
Two independent three-member arbitration panels found that Salazar and Brown “trafficked testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance, administered a prohibited IV infusion, and engaged in tampering to attempt to prevent relevant information about their conduct from being learned by USADA.”
The investigation into the Nike Oregon Project, Salazar, and Brown began in 2015. The USADA announcement noted that the investigation included 30 witnesses, 5,780 pages of transcripts, and 2,000 exhibits of evidence. The BBC reported that USADA brought doping charges against Salazar and Brown in March 2017, and the two contested the charges, which then went to arbitration.
Salazar adamantly denied all accusations throughout the process. In a statement on the Oregon Project website posted on Monday evening, he wrote, in part: “I am shocked by the outcome today. Throughout this six-year investigation my athletes and I have endured unjust, unethical and highly damaging treatment from USADA…I have always ensured the WADA code is strictly followed. The Oregon Project has never and will never permit doping.” He wrote that he will appeal the decision.
“The athletes in these cases found the courage to speak out and ultimately exposed the truth,” said USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart 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’s athletes have won dozens of Olympic and world championships medals over the years, as well as international marathons. Notable names in running have left Salazar and the Oregon Project in the past few years, including Mo Farah, who won four Olympic golds and six world titles, Matthew Centrowitz, who won the 2016 Olympic gold medal in the 1500 meters, Mary Cain, who at age 17 was a 2013 world championships finalist, and Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time Olympian who left the team in 2014.
Not every member of the Nike Oregon Project is directly coached by Salazar, but several members of the team are still competing at this week’s world championships. Sifan Hassan, a Dutch distance runner and member of the Oregon Project, won the world outdoor title in the women’s 10,000 meters on Saturday.
Two of his current athletes—Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay—are scheduled to run the Chicago Marathon on October 13. No Nike Oregon Project athletes have tested positive for a banned substance.
Runner’s World attempted to contact Hasay and the Chicago Marathon, but requests for comment were not immediately returned.
On Monday evening, Nike released the following statement:
“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.
“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.”