(Reuters) - The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Monday said it had banned American Alberto Salazar, who has coached some of the world’s top distance runners including British Olympian track champion Mo Farah, for four years for doping violations.
USADA said Salazar’s punishment was for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct” as head coach of the Nike Oregan Project (NOP), a camp designed primarily to develop U.S. endurance athletes.
Salazar, who also coached American Olympian Matthew Centrowitz among other top distance runners, trafficked banned performance-enhancing substance testosterone to multiple athletes, USADA said in a statement.
Salazar also tampered or attempted to tamper with NOP athletes’ doping control process, the agency said after concluding its four-year investigation.
Jeffrey Brown, who worked as a paid consultant endocrinologist for NOP on performance enhancement and served as a physician for numerous athletes in the training programme, also received a four-year ban.
Salazar, Nike and Brown could not be reached for comment. Salazar has in the past denied any wrongdoing.
Several members of NOP are competing in the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
None of the athletes Salazar has worked with were mentioned in Monday’s report.
Salazar stopped coaching Farah in 2017 when the runner decided to move back to England. Farah said at the time that the doping investigation was not the reason they parted ways.
“The athletes in these cases found the courage to speak out and ultimately exposed the truth,” Travis Tygart, USADA chief executive officer, said in a statement.
“While acting in connection with the Nike Oregon Project, Mr. Salazar and Dr. Brown demonstrated that winning was more important than the health and wellbeing of the athletes they were sworn to protect.”
Salazar, 61, was a celebrated distance runner, winning three consecutive New York City marathons starting in 1980.
Nike funds NOP, the nation’s most elite long-distance running training centre, in Portland, Oregon, under a $460 million 26-year sponsorship deal with US Track and Field.
Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; editing by Jane Wardell