Alberto Salazar, coach and champion runner, excluded from sport is for life

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Long-distance running trainer Alberto Salazar was declared permanently ineligible by the American Center for Sports Safety on Wednesday, completing the staggering downfall of the sport’s most famous trainer, who had long been supported financially by Nike.

Salazar, 63, will not be permitted to participate in any activity organized by or under the auspices of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee or any national sport governing body.

He was suspended by SafeSport in early 2020 and was declared permanently ineligible in July for what SafeSport called emotional and sexual misconduct, a decision which Salazar appealed. According to SafeSport Discipline Database, Salazar’s ban relates to sexual misconduct, which suggests that he successfully appealed the emotional misconduct charge but not the sexual misconduct charge. SafeSport declined to comment.

It is not known for which offense (s) Salazar was banned. SafeSport, an independent body that deals with cases of abuse and misconduct in Olympic sports, does not publish its decisions. Maurice Suh, Salazar’s lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment.

For nearly four decades, Salazar has been at the forefront of American running. He won marathons in New York and Boston in the 1980s and competed in the 1984 Olympics. In the early 2000s, he co-founded the Nike Oregon Project, a Nike-funded and based running group. Beaverton, Ore., Which was trying to boost American competitiveness in running.

Salazar’s downfall began in 2019, when an independent arbitration panel upheld a ban against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. He appealed this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and after a long delay due to the coronavirus, the ban was confirmed in September. The Court of Arbitration for Sport determined that Salazar possessed testosterone; was an accomplice of a doctor who gave a bad infusion of L-carnitine, a substance that converts fat into energy; and altered the doping control process.

Shortly after Salazar was suspended in 2019, a number of female runners he coached came forward to accuse him of emotional abuse and fat shame. Mary Cain accused him of shaming her for her weight in front of the rest of the squad, and Amy Yoder Begley, an Olympian, said Salazar verbally assaulted her and told her he was firing her from Nike Oregon Project because she had “the biggest ass on the start line,” among other misconduct charges. Cain also sued Salazar, who denied abusing athletes, in an Oregon court. The case continues.

Nike, which sponsored Salazar in the 1980s, employed him in its marketing department in the 1990s and funded his Project Oregon coaching for nearly 20 years. The company initially supported him and funded the appeal for his doping suspension. But as more and more athletes accused him of misconduct and employees protested, the company pulled away from him.

Nike shut down Project Oregon, and when SafeSport first banned Salazar in July, the company noted that “Alberto is no longer a contract trainer.” In August, the company removed Salazar’s name from a building on its campus.

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