The Nike Oregon 'doping programme': What you need to know

08 October 2019 - 06:58 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Nike reportedly facilitated the doping.
Nike reportedly facilitated the doping.
Image: Drew Angerer - Getty/AFP/File

Controversial track coach Alberto Salazar has been banned for four years, after a ban issued by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada).

The investigation

The 61-year-old, who is head of the Nike Oregon Project, a training programme aimed at boosting the performance of American athletes, was found to have “possessed and trafficked a banned performance-enhancing substance and administered a prohibited method to multiple track and field athletes”, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to a BBC report, Usada said the ruling was based on a four-year investigation that included 30 witness interviews, more than 2,000 exhibits and nearly 5,800 pages of transcripts.

Controversial “supplement”

The report said a December 2011 e-mail from Salazar to cyclist Lance Armstrong was discovered. In it, he allegedly told Armstrong about a supplement called L-carnitine, which is believed to enhance athletic performance.

The e-mail read: “Lance, call me asap! We have tested it and it’s amazing! You are the only athlete I’m going to tell the actual numbers to other than Galen Rupp. It’s too incredible. All completely legal and natural.”

Nike's involvement

The Washington Post reported that the arbitration panel’s findings also indicated that Nike facilitated the doping of athletes.

Endocrinologist Jeffrey Brown, a doctor at the Nike Oregon Project, also received a four-year ban.

“The panel’s summary further indicated that (Salazar) had alerted Nike executives to some of his testosterone testing — specifically an experiment that involved Salazar’s sons using a cream and running on a treadmill for 20 minutes.”

Denials

A Nike spokesperson denied the allegations, saying: “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 (Wada).”


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Salazar speaks

In a statement, Salazar said he was shocked by the outcome, adding that he would appeal the ruling.

“I have always ensured the Wada code is strictly followed. 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.”


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