The distance running coach has been facing doping allegations for the last month—and he finally responds.
In a more-than-10,000-word letter posted on nikeoregonproject.com, coach Alberto Salazar finally responded to the ongoing allegations against him, the Nike Oregon Project and star runner Galen Rupp, just in time for this weekend’s U.S. Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore. In the letter, Salazar denies all claims that he and Rupp ever used illegal substances to further the 10K American record holder’s career. The claims were publicly revealed after BBC and ProPublica published a documentary on the doping problem in sports, speaking to Olympian Kara Goucher about her experience as a former Nike Oregon Project athlete and why she chose to leave the team years ago. Steve Magness, former assistant coach for Salazar, also comments in the documentary, pointing out specific instances where he questioned Salazar’s motives for certain decisions concerning Rupp, particularly an incident that happened during international competition.
“Former athletes, contractors and journalists make accusations in these stories, harming my athletes. At best they are misinformed. At worst, they are lying,” Salazar says in the opening line of his statement. He goes on to say that the medications Rupp’s been accused of abusing are either for legitimate medical purposes— “Galen has fully disclosed his asthma and allergy treatment to USADA”—or completely false. He also cites Goucher as the person who introduced Rupp to the first endocrinologist that helped manage his thyroid issue, saying, “Galen takes his thyroid medication so that his body can function normally—not for any competitive advantage.”
Salazar also clarified that Rupp used only two TUEs—or therapeutic use exemptions, which allow athletes to use an otherwise banned medication for a necessary medical purpose—in his career, denying the idea that he manipulated the system to obtain a competitive edge.
Numerous athletes, including Goucher in the documentary, stated that Salazar placed certain pressures on them to use various medications in an illegal fashion. Other reports also stated that the presence of hypothyroidism at the Oregon Project was almost hilariously high. Salazar stated that, “Of 55 athletes, only 5 have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism after I had started coaching them.”
The letter continues to go into detailed background of other incidents that have been brought to light, also including specific snapshots of documents and specific bullet points of scenarios that support Salazar’s denial of all allegations. Athletes from the Oregon Project, including Rupp, are scheduled to compete at this weekend’s outdoor champs.