Salazar ban only hurts athletics’ credibility again
Aggressive denial stopped working for Alberto Salazar. The whole spiky, indignant pose towards anyone who questioned the work of Mo Farah’s former coach at the Nike Oregon Project was finally broken when he was banned for four years for doping violations.
What an abysmal week for track and field. A pretty-much empty stadium in Doha for the World Championships, the 100 metres title won by a sprinter (Christian Coleman) who claims his reputation has been tarnished by a dope-test violation charge (subsequently dropped) – and now the lid blown off Salazar’s rule-breaking, thanks to whistleblowers and investigative journalism, chiefly Panorama’s Mark Daly. Faith can only erode further when you are reminded that UK Athletics looked at the evidence, concluded there was “no reason to be concerned” and raised no objection to Farah carrying on with Salazar.
By a perverse twist, it was the hack from Russia by “Fancy Bears” that upped the ante with a series of leaks about Western athletes. The pattern is now clearly established of governing bodies moving sluggishly or reluctantly until forced by external pressure. You can bet your house, meanwhile, that Russia, who are at risk again of being expelled from international sport for alleged data-deletions, are crafting a speech about Western double standards.
Salazar and Dr Jeffrey Brown, an endocrinologist, were found to have “trafficked testosterone, used banned infusion methods and tampered with athletes’ records”. The athletes take the highest-profile hits, but there are people in positions of power who are killing track and field stone dead.