Mon, 14 Oct 2019

London - An athlete-turned-whistleblower previously coached by banned coach Alberto Salazar has called for his Nike Oregon Project (NOP) to be closed down.

Salazar was last week banned for four years, in the middle of the World Athletics Championships, following a four-year investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Athletes from his group won three gold medals at the championships in Doha.

US runner Kara Goucher, who was coached by Salazar from 2004 to 2011 and provided key evidence in the case against him, told the BBC on Sunday she wants the NOP to be shut down.

"It (NOP) has to go," Goucher said.

"I feel really bad for the athletes because I'm sure many of them are innocent, but it's not my decision," she said.

"If I was Nike I'd be bringing in some new coaches and move on from this Oregon Project, because clearly it had principles not in line with clean sport and we have to just start over.

"These athletes should do the right thing - staying in that uniform sends such a terrible message. They really need to shut it down and give athletes a chance to train under someone new and fresh."

Salazar, who guided Britain's four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah from 2011 until 2017, says he has done nothing wrong and will appeal the ban.

Nike has said it will support Salazar in his appeal, with the US sportswear giant arguing that the decision over Salazar "had nothing to do with administering banned substances to any Oregon Project athlete".

Goucher turned whistleblower in 2013, making claims of wrongdoing by Salazar. Two years later she told a BBC TV documentary he had encouraged her to take thyroid medication to help her lose weight after having a baby.

She later testified at two arbitration hearings in the Salazar case.

In Doha, the Salazar-coached Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands took the women's 1 500m and 10 000m titles and angrily hit out at speculation about her performances, saying she had "shown the world I am a clean athlete" and that she was ready to be tested every day to prove her innocence.

US runner Donavan Brazier was the other NOP athlete to win gold, taking the men's 800m title. He said he was trained by another coach within the group and had little contact with Salazar.

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