Alberto Salazar's response—and the legal implications—of leaked USADA reports

Alberto Salazar's response to a leaked, unconfirmed USADA investigation report plus a look at the legal implications of the unconfirmed document.
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Nike Oregon Project head coach Alberto Salazar has once again denied that he has violated any anti-doping rules despite an ongoing investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency into the renowned distance running coach and his training group. Salazar has been accused of abusing prescription medication and infusion to push the limits on anti-doping rules for his athletes to gain a performance-enhancing edge.

“As I have noted repeatedly, the successes my athletes have achieved are through hard work and dedication,” Salazar told the Oregonian on Wednesday night. “I believe in a clean sport and a methodical, dedicated, approach to training. The Oregon Project will never permit doping and all Oregon Project athletes are required to comply with the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] Code and IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations, the governing body of international track and field] Rules.”

“Lastly, the Oregon Project and its athletes have nothing to hide and are hiding nothing,” Salazar also added. “I fully support their exercising of their rights under the WADA Code and IAAF rules to protect themselves from these improper intrusions. I find it particularly disturbing that athletes' personal medical records are being aired publicly. There is no excuse for it. USADA has failed these innocent athletes.”

Last weekend, The New York Times reported that Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown, an endocrinologist known for diagnosing hypothyroidism in distance runners, may have been part of a possible anti-doping violation by Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. In February, The Sunday Timesprovided several new allegations from March 2016 report into Salazar by USADA. The information was leaked by the Russian hacking group Fancy Bears. A 260-page copy of the interim USADA report was published by track and field website Flotrack on Tuesday but the document’s authenticity was not confirmed by USADA. The latest leaked report says the findings were “subject to change” as the investigation into Salazar and Dr. Brown was in its preliminary stage.

The Sunday Times reported Salazar’s fascination with infusions of l-carnitine, which is an amino acid that is not banned by USADA but infusions of more than 50 milliliters are prohibited. USADA’s leaked reports says the anti-doping agency believes that several of Salazar’s athletes broke anti-doping rules regarding the infusions that may have been greater than 50 milliliters within a six-hour period. The Sunday Times also reported that Salazar put some of his athletes at risk by persuading them to take high doses of vitamin D.

Last summer, USADA sought a deposition from Dr. Brown as part of their investigation into Salazar. A judge denied the attempt to depose Dr. Brown after his lawyer said USADA lacked evidence and was in a “fishing expedition to see if they can find some kind of a problem.”

Allegations against Salazar first came to light in June 2015 when BBC and ProPublica published a joint-report with accounts by former athletes and assistant coaches from the Oregon Project that said Salazar violated medical and anti-doping rules. Salazar denied those allegations with a lengthy report published on the Oregon Project website.

None of Salazar’s Oregon Project athletes have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. His training group includes 2012 and 2016 double-Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah, 2012 Olympic silver medalist (10,000-meters) and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist (marathon) Galen Rupp, 2016 Olympic 1,500-meter gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz, 2017 Boston Marathon third-place finisher Jordan Hasay, 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter American record holder Shannon Rowbury and several others.