American Alberto Salazar, who has coached some of the world’s top distance runners including Olympic and world champion Mo Farah, has been banned for four years for doping violations.
The 61-year-old Cuban-born American was suspended following a years-long investigation by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and a prolonged battle behind closed doors, the agency said.
The USADA said Salazar’s punishment was for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct” as head coach of the Nike Oregon Project (NOP), a camp designed primarily to develop U.S. endurance athletes.
Texas-based endocrinologist Jeffrey Brown, who worked for NOP on performance enhancement and served as a physician for numerous athletes in the training program, also received a four-year ban.
Salazar, who denied the allegations against him, was barred from attending any World Championships venues after having his credentials deactivated, the IAAF confirmed Tuesday.
Salazar is not a member of the United States Track and Field Federation team in Qatar, but several athletes linked to his Nike Oregon Project training group are competing at the championships.
They include the Netherlands’ Ethiopian-born runner Sifan Hassan, who romped to victory in the women’s 10,000 metres on Saturday and United States runners Donovan Brazier and Clayton Murphy, both Oregon Project athletes.
None of the athletes taking part at the world championships linked to Salazar have been found guilty of doping offences, and none were implicated in USADA’s 134-page summary of the case.
The international Athletics Integrity Unit watchdog meanwhile notified athletes with links to Salazar to cease communication with the coach.
“Salazar has been stripped of his accreditation for this event, and that means that notices have to be given to the athletes under his coaching so that they don’t associate with him now that he has been banned,” AIU chairman David Howman told the Insidethegames.biz sports business website.
Salazar, who was a celebrated distance runner, winning three consecutive New York City marathons starting in 1980, vowed to appeal USADA’s decision. Nike said in a statement it would stand by him.
“I am shocked by the outcome today,” Salazar said in a statement. “My athletes and I have endured unjust, unethical and highly damaging treatment from USADA.”
“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,” the statement concluded.
USADA said Salazar, who also coached American Olympian Matthew Centrowitz among other top distance runners, trafficked banned performance-enhancing substance testosterone to multiple athletes.
Salazar also tampered or attempted to tamper with NOP athletes’ doping control process, the agency said after concluding its four-year investigation.