US distance coach Alberto Salazar loses appeal against doping violations

Alberto Salazar, the US distance coach who guided Mo Farah to four Olympic gold medals and six world titles, is understood to have lost his appeal against a series of doping violations.

Salazar had vowed to clear his name after being sanctioned in October 2019 and appealed to the court of arbitration for sport. But after a virtual hearing that lasted seven days in March his sanction was upheld and as a result he will have to serve his full four-year ban. Cas’s detailed explanation for its decision is expected shortly.

Jeffrey Brown, who worked as a paid consultant endocrinologist for Nike on performance enhancement and served as a physician for many of Salazar’s athletes, also lost his appeal against a four-year ban.

The Oregon Project had been set up initially to help US endurance athletes to beat the best runners from Africa but later recruited several top athletes, including Farah and Sifan Hassan, from around the world.

However an investigation by the BBC and ProPublic in 2015 based on whistleblowers from the Oregon Project, including the assistant coach Steve Magness and the world 10,000m medallist Kara Goucher, raised questions about its methods and led to Salazar being formally investigated by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

In 2019 the 63-year-old was found by an arbitration panel to have trafficked testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance, administered a prohibited IV infusion and tampered or attempted to tamper with athletes’ doping control process.

However, Salazar has never been found guilty of doping any of his athletes. Neither Farah, who left the Oregon Project in 2017, nor Hassan has been accused of doping.

In 2019 Travis Tygart, the Usada chief executive, said: “The athletes in these cases found the courage to speak out and ultimately exposed the truth. While acting in connection with the Nike Oregon Project, Salazar and Dr Brown demonstrated that winning was more important than the health and wellbeing of the athletes.”

However that same year, Salazar protested his innocence, saying he was “shocked” by the outcome. “My athletes and I have endured unjust, unethical and highly damaging treatment from Usada.”

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