Alberto Salazar: Wada must investigate athletes - IOC president

Salazar (centre) alongside Farah (right) and training partner Galen Rupp (left) at the London 2012 Olympics
Salazar (centre) alongside Farah (right) and training partner Galen Rupp (left) at the London 2012 Olympics

The World Anti-Doping Agency should investigate all athletes who trained with banned Alberto Salazar, according to IOC president Thomas Bach.

Salazar, the former coach of Britain's Mo Farah, was this week found guilty of doping violations after a four-year investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada).

The decision against Salazar, 61, came after a two-year court battle.

Bach said the case is "very worrying and raises serious concerns".

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Bach said: "We are confident that Wada will look in to this case very carefully and will follow up on questions which remain after this report.

"The IOC will write a letter to Wada in this respect."

On what he will be asking Wada, Bach added: "To see how many athletes have been investigated. Have all the athletes been investigated who have been training in this centre?

"Does the report address the whole period of the existence of this project or only part of it?

"Could any Olympic results directly or indirectly be affected?

"We learned from the report that the athletes would not have known what happened to them - this is an important factor when looking at sanctions but disqualification is mandatory whether the athlete knows or not.

"We are very confident that Wada is looking at this anyway so we are waiting for the advice from Wada in this respect."

In a statement, Wada said: "Wada notes the decisions passed down in the cases of Alberto Salazar and Jeffrey Brown in connection to their involvement in the Nike Oregon Project. As always, Wada will review all elements of this case.

"We will await the IOC's correspondence but we cannot comment publicly until we have reviewed the case in full."

Salazar, who has said he will appeal the judgement, runs the Nike Oregon Project - home to four-time Olympic champion Farah from 2011 until 2017.

The 36-year-old Farah, also a six-time world champion, said: "I'm relieved that Usada has, after four years, completed their investigation into Alberto Salazar.

"I left the Nike Oregon Project in 2017 but, as I've always said, I have no tolerance for anyone who breaks the rules or crosses a line. I'm glad there has finally been a conclusion."

The Briton has never failed a drugs test and has always strongly denied breaking any rules.

Allegations against Salazar first surfaced in 2015, but UK Athletics cleared Farah to remain with the Nike Oregon Project (NOP).

NOP runner Engels 'never had any concerns'

Athletes linked to Salazar competing at the World Championships in Doha this week have largely refused to be drawn on the matter. Women's 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan did not speak to reporters after winning her 1500m semi-final on Thursday. Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz, who was coached by Salazar until 2018, also declined to comment after his heat.

However, Craig Engels said he had never seen anything suspicious in his two years with the NOP - and feared innocent athletes who trained there could see their reputations damaged.

"It just sucks because the Oregon Project is a little bit more tarnished," he said. "It puts a bad name on everyone."

Shortly after advancing from his 1500m heat to the semi-finals in Doha, the US runner was asked if anything had ever given him cause for concern in Portland. "No, not at all," he said.

"I remember telling my college coach: 'If anything ever happens, then I'll be the guy that says it,'" he added.

"I thought I'd give it a year and see if I did well, and if I didn't and there was stuff going on, I would leave the group and report it. But literally, absolutely nothing has been offered to me, or pressured on me, nothing."

Engels was also critical of Usada's timing of its announcement, during the World Championships.

"Kind of messed up on their part but I understand they were trying to make an impact," he said.

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