Mo Farah could have received guidance and support from Alberto Salazar’s son during the World Athletics Championships, with Sportsmail able to reveal that Alex Salazar was in London as a member of the American team’s coaching staff.
As one senior British Athletics figure revealed before the Championships, Alberto Salazar took the decision to stay away from London to protect Farah’s reputation when the four-time Olympic champion was going to be the focus of so much attention. Salazar, after all, remains at the centre of a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation.
A conscious effort has certainly been made to put some distance between Farah and Salazar, with the 34-year-old, his PR spin doctors and even British Athletics officials playing down the importance of an American who actually transformed him from an also-ran into the most successful distance runner in history.
On Sunday Farah was evasive when asked if he planned to remain with Salazar when he retires from the track at the end of this season and moves up to the marathon.
He did, however, claim that Salazar’s involvement has been limited for the last ‘three or four years’ despite the fact that he continues to compete under the Nike Oregon Project banner and still lives with his family in Portland.
He also publicly stood by him two years ago when doping allegations first emerged as a result of a joint investigation by the BBC and ProPublica.
It has now emerged, however, that Salazar’s son was in London for the duration of the Championships, with his attention extending beyond the Nike Oregon Project athletes representing the US.
On Sunday he was seen at the warm-up track assisting Sifan Hassan, the Dutch distance runner who took the bronze medal in the 5000m ahead of Great Britain’s Laura Muir. She is an NOP athlete.
It is unclear as to how much time, if any, Alex Salazar devoted to Farah – he has been receiving day-to-day support from a junior British Athletics coach after a fall-out with head of endurance Barry Fudge – but coaches from other nations were stunned to see Alex Salazar there when he too is a prominent figure in the American anti-doping inquiry.
More than 20 former Nike Oregon Project athletes, coaches and staff have given evidence to USADA and one former coach, Steve Magness, revealed how Alex Salazar was used in a highly controversial experiment to see how much testosterone gel could be used before triggering a positive drugs test.
In an open letter to respond to the allegations two years ago, Salazar even admitted to using Alex and his brother Tony as scientific guinea pigs in July 2009 with a product called Androgel.
Salazar, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, claimed it was a ‘sabotage test’ amid fears that a physiotherapist accused by Justin Gatlin of rubbing testosterone gel into him – and causing him to fail a drugs test for the second time in his career – had come into contact with Farah’s training partner, Galen Rupp.
Magness dismissed the explanation as ‘ludicrous’ and a leaked USADA interim report raisea a number of concerns when using a banned substance on support staff could yet lead to sanctions.
Salazar claimed the testosterone gel experiments were organised by Houston endocrinologist Dr Jeffrey Brown, with USADA stating in their report to the Texas Medical Board that neither Alex or Tony Salazar ‘had a prescription for testosterone’. The report also said the second of the two experiments was actually conducted on the Nike Campus in Oregon.
In an interview with USADA in February 2016 Salazar said the testosterone used in the experiments came from his own prescription for the substance, with Salazar personally applying it to his sons. Salazar also told USADA that the testosterone had been prescribed by Dr Brown.
However, USADA highlighted the fact that in the open letter published by Salazar in June 2015, when he attacked the credibility Magness and his claims, he had stated that ‘he was under the care of Portland physician Kristina Harp for hypogonadism and that Salazar was prescribed testosterone gel by Dr Harp’.
In a report that also contained evidence that Salazar’s athletes have been prescribed medication they had no medical need for, Farah among them, the USADA report identified other concerns. It stated that ‘Salazar acknowledged that his sons certainly were not informed of any risks of the administration of testosterone without a medical need for the substance’.