Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
UK Athletics (UKA) has ‘no concerns’ about the involvement of British athletes and coaches with the Nike Oregon Project, it said after its Performance Oversight Group (POG) completed its review into UK Athletics’ involvement with the US training centre. Today’s finding is a reiteration of the POG’s initial findings, reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative in July.
UKA launched its investigation after a BBC Panorama programme ‘Catch me if you can’ alleged that Alberto Salazar, Head Coach at the Nike Oregon Project, had used banned steroids and unethical practices on athletes including Galen Rupp, Adam and Kara Goucher. UK athlete Mo Farah and Rupp are training partners at the Nike Oregon Project. Farah (pictured) has decided to maintain his relationship with the Project, and is listed on its website as one of its athletes.
‘In July we said that there was no evidence of any impropriety on the part of Mo Farah and no reason to lack confidence in his training programme’, read a UKA statement issued today. ‘The Oversight Group have restated that view today. The review established that the vast majority of the endurance program’s interaction with the Oregon Project is in fact focussed on Mo Farah, with very little other UK Athletics related activity. Coaching and support for Mo Farah will remain the focus of our engagement with the Oregon Project. The Oversight Group has made a number of organisational and procedural recommendations which UK Athletics’ Performance Director Neil Black will take forward and implement over the coming months.’
UK Athletics said that since it announced that it would be investigating its relationship with the Nike Oregon Project, ‘obviously’ the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had launched its own investigation, and that this had prevented it from providing more detail on its findings. ‘USADA is clearly the right body to look at anti-doping issues’, read the UKA statement. ‘They have asked us not to give any further details of our review until their work has concluded. We respect their request and are of course giving them our fullest support and co-operation.’
Before UKA’s statement today, USADA had yet to formally announce any investigation into the Nike Oregon Project, however there were unconfirmed reports that it had been speaking to involved athletes. The Sports Integrity Initiative today asked USADA to provide details on its investigation, but has yet to receive a response.
The audit of UKA’s involvement with the Oregon Project was described as ‘independent’ by UKA, which is also sponsored by Nike. The members of the POG are former British sprinter Jason Gardener, a non-executive Director at UKA; UKA Director Dr. Sarah Rowell and British Athletics squad member Anne Wafula-Strike.
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