British Athletics to maintain link with Alberto Salazar despite allegations

Sean Ingle
Alberto Salazar was alleged to have ‘almost certainly’ broken anti-doping rules in a leaked Usada interim report. Photograph: Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock

British Athletics has confirmed it will maintain a close relationship with Mo Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar unless he is officially charged with wrongdoing by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Neil Black, the performance directorof British Athletics, also dismissed concerns that his organisation runs the risk of being tainted like British Cycling because of its association with Salazar, saying he was “really confident” it had done everything by the book. “Everything we do, and the way we act, follows really, really correctly the processes of clean athletics,” he said. “If it says: ‘You do x, y and z,’ then we do x, y, and z.”

Black was responding to a recently leaked Usada interim report that said Salazar “almost certainly” broke anti‑doping rules when he gave infusions of the amino acid L‑carnitine to six of his US athletes at the Nike Oregon Project in Portland, Oregon, where Farah trains.

The 269-page interim report, which was sent by Usada to the Texas Medical Board in March 2016, also alleged that Dr Jeffrey Brown had provided Salazar’s athletes with prescription drug cocktails, often with no medical need, and had “engaged in serial violations of professional, medical and ethical obligations to his patients, putting them at increased risk of injury to their health and wellbeing”.

When it was suggested to Black that it was time to reassess the close relationship with Salazar, he replied that it would be wrong to act as judge and jury. “Usada themselves have made a statement that it would be unreasonable and potentially even reckless to actually assume wrongdoing,” he said.

“Its statement was that until an anti-doping process has been completed and the findings have been confirmed, then we shouldn’t make those assumptions. I think that is perfectly reasonable stance. And in effect, that is our stance.”

It is understood that British Athletics has kept and maintained detailed medical records and would have been asked to submit them to Usada as part of the investigation.

The Usada report, which was leaked by the ºRussian hackers Fancy Bears to the Sunday Times, also alleges British Athletics ignored warnings from one of its doctors that Farah was receiving potentially harmful treatments from his coach shortly after he moved to the US to join his training group in late 2010. Further questions were also raised about Salazar’s practices on Thursday by the French newspaper L’Équipe, which said Farah’s training partner Galen Rupp took 21 different legal vitamins over the span of four days last April while another Nike Oregon Project athlete, Shannon Rowbury, took 18 different vitamins over eight days.

L’Équipe showed the list of medications to Jean-Michel Serra, the French athletics federation’s doctor, who said: “It’s quite astounding – one wonders if they are not sick. Taking drugs when you are not sick is clearly entering into the foundations of doping.”

Salazar has been the subject of a Usada investigation since being accused in a BBC Panorama documentary of a series of doping violations – including giving Rupp the banned steroid testosterone as a 16-year-old – in June 2015. The same month he issued a forceful 12,000-word riposte denying all charges and has continued to maintained his innocence. There are no suggestions Farah has committed any wrongdoing.

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