Sir Mo Farah speaks out after former coach Alberto Salazar is banned

Farah worked at the Nike Oregon Project under Salazar between 2011 and 2017.

By Press Association Published: 1 October 2019 - 8.25pm

Sir Mo Farah says he has “no tolerance for anyone who breaks the rules or crosses the line” after his former coach Alberto Salazar was given a four-year ban for doping violations.

The 36-year-old British athlete worked with Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) from 2011 until 2017.

The American coach, 61, was sanctioned along with endocrinologist Jeffrey Brown for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct” while working with the NOP, the United States Anti-Doping Agency said.

Farah, who won four Olympic gold medals at 5,000 metres and 10,000m during the time he worked at the NOP, released a statement on Tuesday morning.

“I’m relieved that USADA has, after four years, completed their investigation into Alberto Salazar,” he said.

“I left the Nike Oregon Project in 2017 but as I’ve always said, I have no tolerance for anyone who breaks the rules or crosses a line. A ruling has been made and I’m glad there has finally been a conclusion.”

There has never been any suggestion or allegation of wrongdoing made against Farah, who it is understood learned of the ban for Salazar when it was made public on Tuesday morning.

Farah denied his decision to leave the NOP, in October 2017, was to do with the doping claims.

In 2017 he also quit running track races, deciding to concentrate on the marathon, but earlier this year said he might return to the track for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

London Olympic Games – Day 8
Alberto Salazar (centre) celebrates with his athletes Mo Farah (right) and Galen Rupp (left) after they won gold and silver over 10,000m at London 2012 (Martin Rickett/PA)

Salazar, in a statement, said: “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.

“This is demonstrated by the misleading statement released by Travis Tygart (USADA chief executive officer) stating that we put winning ahead of athlete safety.

“This is completely false and contrary to the findings of the arbitrators, who even wrote about the care I took in complying with the World Anti-Doping Code.”

Salazar intends to appeal against the sanctions.

“I have always ensured the WADA code is strictly followed,” he continued in his statement. “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.”

2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships – Day Two – Arena Birmingham
Alberto Salazar says he was ‘shocked’ by the sanctions and plans to appeal (Martin Rickett/PA)

Tygart praised athletes for having the “courage to speak out and ultimately expose the truth” during the four-year USADA investigation.

He said: “While acting in connection with the Nike Oregon Project, Mr Salazar and Dr Brown demonstrated that winning was more important than the health and well-being of the athletes they were sworn to protect.”

Salazar’s violations included “administration of a prohibited method”, tampering or attempted tampering with athletes’ doping control processes and trafficking or attempted trafficking of testosterone.

Brown was found to have tampered with records, administered an “over-limit” infusion and to have been complicit in Salazar’s trafficking of testosterone.

Salazar moved into coaching after a successful distance running career in which he won the New York Marathon three times in a row between 1980 and 1982.

“It’s great that finally coaches are getting sanctioned and banned. In recent times it’s just been the athletes held to account.”
- Denise Lewis

Former Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis is pleased to see coaches being punished rather than just athletes.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live: “If you look at the USADA report, the violations are countless and make for a damning read.

“It’s great that finally coaches are getting sanctioned and banned. In recent times it’s just been the athletes held to account.”

Former world 1500m champion Steve Cram told the BBC: “Mo Farah is a great champion and he hasn’t done anything wrong.

“To create guilt by association is also wrong. He has never been found guilty of any offences and so you have to accept that.

Steve Cram has defended Sir Mo Farah
Steve Cram has defended Sir Mo Farah (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

“It’s up to the public to make judgements – we all have opinions but at the moment there’s absolutely nothing that says there’s anything wrong with what Mo Farah has done.”

Donavan Brazier, who won the 800m at the World Championships on Tuesday, said: “I’m coached by Pete Julian (assistant coach at NOP) so it really didn’t affect me that much.

“The ban for Alberto is very disappointing because, at the end of the day, he’s the pioneer of the Oregon Project. To be fair I didn’t even know the investigation was going on.”

USA Track and Field said in a statement: “USATF’s commitment to clean sport and a level playing field for all athletes cannot be overstated. USATF’s focus remains on the health and well-being of its athletes.”

UK Athletics said in a statement that its Board and Performance Oversight Committee would “review the arbitration decision in full” before making any further comment.

The IAAF announced that, at the request of USATF, Salazar’s World Championships accreditation had been deactivated.