Tag Archives: Nike Oregon Project

Alberto Salazar’s lifetime ban upheld

Former American track coach Alberto Salazar’s lifetime ban appeal for sexual misconduct has been rejected by the US Center for SafeSport.

The 63-year-old was handed the lifetime ban following allegations he had emotionally and physically abused a number of athletes during his time as part of the Nike Oregon Project.

In January 2020, SafeSport temporarily banned Salazar with the decision subsequently made permanent in July 2021.

Salazar ran the Nike Oregon Project , based in Beaverton, Oregon.

It was established in 2001 and was the home of British four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah.

Farah has not been accused of doping, and left the Oregon Project in 2017.

A BBC Panorama film revealed last year that Farah was questioned about his relationship with Salazar by US investigators in 2015, but he has never failed a doping test, nor been accused of doping. Salazar also coached Dutch runner Sifan Hassan, who took triple medals at the just concluded Tokyo 2020 in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. It eventually resulted in bans for both Salazar and Nike endocrinologist Dr Geoffrey Brown, announced in October 2019.

Before he became a coach, Salazar was one of the most talented distance runners of his generation, winning the New York City marathon in 1980, 1981 and 1982. He is also famous for the ‘Duel in the Sun’ at the Boston Marathon in 1982.

Mary Cain sues Nike and Alberto Salazar for $20million

Former middle-distance runner Mary Cain has filed a $20m lawsuit against disgraced coach Alberto Salazar and Nike alleging she suffered years of emotional abuse.

Cain was considered a generational talent when she was in high school and qualified for the 2013 world championships as a 17-year-old. She was a part of the Nike Oregon Project and was coached by Salazar from the age of 16.

But in 2019 she told the New York Times that rather than nurturing her talent, Salazar’s behaviour led her to self-harm and to harbour thoughts of taking her own life. “I joined Nike because I wanted to be the best female athlete ever. Instead I was emotionally and physically abused by a system designed by Alberto and endorsed by Nike,” she told the newspaper.

The Oregonian reported that Cain, who is now 25, filed the lawsuit on Monday in Oregon’s Multnomah County. The lawsuit alleges that Salazar forced Cain to get on scales in front of other people and criticised her weight. “Salazar told her that she was too fat and that her breasts and bottom were too big,” the lawsuit alleges.

Cain also alleges Salazar controlled her food intake, forcing her to steal nutrition bars from other athletes. Kristen West McCall, a lawyer representing Cain, also claims Salazar stopped the runner from getting help from her own parents. “He prevented Cain from consulting with and relying on her parents, particularly her father, who is a doctor,” McCall told the Oregonian.

McCall added that Nike did nothing to prevent the alleged abuse. “Nike was letting Alberto weight-shame women, objectify their bodies, and ignore their health and wellbeing as part of its culture,” she said. “This was a systemic and pervasive issue. And they did it for their own gratification and profit.” Nike has not commented on the lawsuit. Salazar has previously denied many of Cain’s claims and said he had supported her health and welfare.

“I never encouraged her, or worse yet, shamed her, to maintain an unhealthy weight,” he told the Oregonian in 2019. Salazar was banned for doping offences in 2019, and in September the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a four-year ban on appeal.

In 2019, Salazar’s former assistant Steve Magness, who became a whistleblower, said he had witnessed the same behaviour at the Oregon Project. “At one point I was told I needed to make a female athlete lose weight,” he said. “When I showed data on her body fat being low already, I was told: ‘I don’t care what the science says I know what I see with my eyes. Her butt is too big.’

There was no adult in the room, looking after health and wellbeing. When the culture pushes to the extreme, this is what you get.” Salazar coached many top athletes during his career, including Britain’s four-time Olympic champion, Sir Mo Farah.

Alberto Salazar four years doping ban upheld

Former American track coach Alberto Salazar’s four-year suspension has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The 63-year-old was banned two years ago for a series of doping violations by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) but appealed against the decision.

Salazar ran the Nike Oregon Project , based in Beaverton, Oregon.

It was established in 2001 and was the home of British four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah.

Farah has not been accused of doping, and left the Oregon Project in 2017.

A BBC Panorama film revealed last year that Farah was questioned about his relationship with Salazar by US investigators in 2015, but he has never failed a doping test, nor been accused of doping. Salazar also coached Dutch runner Sifan Hassan, who took triple medals at the just concluded Tokyo 2020 in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. It eventually resulted in bans for both Salazar and Nike endocrinologist Dr Geoffrey Brown, announced in October 2019.

Before he became a coach, Salazar was one of the most talented distance runners of his generation, winning the New York City marathon in 1980, 1981 and 1982. He is also famous for the ‘Duel in the Sun’ at the Boston Marathon in 1982.

Nike’s lightning shoes

Do you know the most remarkable thing about Nike’s £200 Vaporfly Elite trainers? They actually live up to the hype.

When the shoe was launched last year, Nike insisted it improved running economy by an average of 4% – a claim so astounding that it caused many sports scientists’ eyebrows to rise in scepticism, loosely aping the company’s swoosh logo.

However last week, the New York Times, having analysed 495,000 marathon and half-marathon times since 2014 using data from Strava, reached a similar conclusion. Runners who wore Vaporflys, which have a controversial carbon-fibre plate in their soles, did indeed run 3-4% quicker on average than similar runners wearing other shoes, and around 1% faster than those using the next speediest shoe.

Your first instinct might be to rush out and buy a pair – especially as a separate study in the journal Sports Medicine on elite athletes estimated that the shoes could take six minutes off a three-hour marathoner’s time. Good luck with that. The shoes appear to be almost permanently sold out, and often go for double their retail price on eBay.

A more pressing task is to ask whether the shoes – and other forms of cutting-edge technology – go too far. Do they, in effect, turn what is supposed to be a level playing field in one that more resembles the slope of the Eiger?

A case can be made that the Vaporflys have already created at least one major sliding-doors moment in elite sport. Roger Pielke Jnr, the director of the sports governance centre at the University of Colorado Boulder, notes that in the 2016 US Olympic marathon trials, Kara Goucher finished in fourth – missing out on the plane to Rio by just one place. Yet the winner, Amy Cragg, along with the third-placed runner, Shalane Flanagan, were both wearing early prototypes of the Vaporflys, which he believes could have made all the difference to the result.

“It is highly likely that Goucher is the first known athlete to miss the Olympics due to shoe technology,” says Pielke. “The mean improvement of Nike Vaporfly for women and fastest runners is around 2%. Put Goucher into Vaporflys in the 2016 US marathon trials, and she gets a spot if they improve her performance by only 0.7%.”

The kicker? If Goucher had not left the Nike Oregon Project after raising concerns about its use of TUEs and thyroid medication, she may indeed have been wearing those shoes.

So where should we draw the line? On the one hand you cannot blame companies for striving to break new ground. They have profits to chase, consumers to satisfy, competitors breathing down their neck. We want these products, too. Only the most masochistic of runners attempts marathons in bare feet or old‑school trainers.

The International Association of Athletics Federations, the world governing body, also insists that Nike’s game-changing shoe meets all its requirements and “does not require any special inspection or approval”. Yet elite competition also requires a semblance of fairness. At some point the IAAF will have to rule on the permissible amount of energy return allowed from cushioning materials and whether carbon‑fibre devices in midsoles should be banned.

Such discussions stretch beyond track and field. In 2009, the sports governing body of swimming, Fina, banned the LZR Racer swimsuit because it was said to reduce skin friction drag by 24%. Yet in other sports the rules appear a little looser. Take British Cycling’s skinsuits, which they have used at Olympic Games since 2008 and are said to improve performance by up to 7%. That is a colossal advantage – yet the UCI has ruled they are legal.

Some inside the system concede that it would take other nations vast sums to replicate such technology. Elite competition is about winning, they point out, and if the rules permit the skinsuits what is the problem? Similar technology was also used to help Team GB win three skeleton medals in Pyeongchang – much to the delight of the nation.

Yet it is only natural to also feel a bit queasy about this, because it means that a cyclist from a smaller nation has almost no chance of an Olympic medal in a track sprint. While they will wear an off-the-peg skinsuit, British cyclists will have been 3D-laser scanned before being provided with suits made with cutting-edge materials, including polyurethane derivatives.

Those suits will, crucially, contain near-invisible “trips” that disrupt the flow of air and create a turbulence effect that reduces the amount of wind resistance acting on the body.

All this can get very thorny. At London 2012, most supported the Paralympian Oscar Pistorius being allowed to race wearing carbon fibre limbs– even though respected sports scientists, such as Ross Tucker, were pointing out that it enabled him to use 20% less force than able-bodied athletes to run at the same speeds.

When I spoke to someone who uses the Vaporfly Elites they raved about them providing more “bounce and forward momentum” and said they also helped them go faster for longer. “Oddly you feel them most when standing still or walking in them,” they said. “They tip you forward slightly so it’s like you are always just about to ‘take off’ at speed.”

But now we know how well the shoes work, is it time to power down their afterburners?

theguardian.com

 

Mo Farah tainted by Alberto Salazar link, says British marathon record holder

The British marathon record holder Steve Jones fears Mo Farah will always be tainted by his association with Alberto Salazar – and says he wishes he had left his former coach years ago.

Jones fully expects Farah to shatter his 33-year-old UK record of 2:07.13 during the London Marathon on Sunday and even thinks his fellow Briton could challenge for the world record one day. But he does not understand why Farah decided to stay loyal to Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project training group until 2017, two years after they started to be investigated by the US Anti-Doping Agency – an investigation that continues.

“Personally, I would have distanced myself,” Jones said. “I said that three years ago when this whole thing blew up about Salazar. The people at Portland thought I was telling Mo to quit Salazar and get away as far as possible. I was just saying distance yourself until it either all falls back into place or the stories became true.”

Jones, who is now a distance coach in Colorado, said he was well aware of Salazar’s reputation for pushing himself to the limits since he began racing him during the 80s. “We have had some times together and I know his abilities,” he said.

“I know he is a little crazy. In marathon we are all nuts and raisins. It is what level you are. Alberto always takes things to the nth degree. I think that is what he has done with his coaching and his training.”

Jones said Salazar’s well-publicised health problems – his heart stopped for 14 minutes in 2007 – may have been a consequence of driving himself too hard. “That is what happens when you overdo things. I mean this is a little unfair to be talking about all this when we’re talking about Mo. I’m not trying to say this is the avenue Mo is taking, or anything, but there is a little taint there. It is guilt by association, I suppose, which is very unfair.”

Farah, who has always strenuously denied breaking any rules, is now coached by Gary Lough since quitting the track last year. Salazar has also consistently denied any wrongdoing after the BBC and ProPublica alleged he had broken anti-doping rules in 2015.

The 62-year-old Jones is delighted his marathon record is finally being challenged and is confident he will be bidding it a fond goodbye on Sunday. “I never thought the record would last so long. It is surprising. Although when I did it I kind of blew up in the last five or six miles so it could have been a little quicker had I not been so aggressive early on.

“When I look at my 2:07 I’m really looking at 2:05 but it’s good to see it being challenged now. I should just wave the white flag now and hand it over. I was confident in 2014 it would go, although when Mo went from talking about winning the race to breaking my record it made me think he wasn’t quite so confident. This time it’s a foregone conclusion – even a bad run this time should break the British record.”

The forecast of 23C for Sunday is likely to scupper the plans of the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and the Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele to challenge Dennis Kimetto’s world marathon record of 2:02:57 set in 2014.

Kipchoge ran 2:00:25 in Monza last May, but it did not count as a new best under IAAF rules because he was helped by a phalanx of pacemakers who subbed in and out of the race. However he believes he is capable of taking on Kimetto’s time at some point. “Personally I know that one day I will break a world record,” he said. “It might be too hot on Sunday but everyone is running in the same weather. I promise we will see a beautiful race.”

Kipchoge’s coach, Patrick Sang, said his man was in very similar shape to his epic run in Monza when he came so close to being the first man to run under two hours – albeit with extra help. “But the heat, of course, will have an effect,” Sang said. “To what degree, I don’t know, but it will have an impact.”

When asked whether there was still a hope of a world record on Sunday, Sang nodded before replying: “If the temperature comes down a little bit there is a big chance.”

Unfortunately for Kipchoge and Bekele the increasingly certain weather forecasts suggest that chance is dwindling by the hour.
source: theguardian.com

Laura Muir ditches Nike Oregon Project coach

Scottish middle-distance runner Laura Muir has reneged on a plan to join up with Nike Oregon coach Dave McHenry.

Reports emerged on Thursday of her plans to link up with the project, which is run by Mo Farah’s ex-coach Alberto Salazar, who is the subject of a US anti-doping investigation.

British 1500m record-holder Muir suggested the media speculation was a distraction putting her under unwanted stress.

“At a busy time in my life, with my degree in veterinary medicine coming to a critical stage and my running career going so well, I need to minimise distractions and stresses to allow me to focus on my athletics and studies.

“I have no concerns about Dave McHenry and was hugely impressed when I met him but, after some reflection, we have decided not to start working with him as planned and not to pursue this relationship further.”

Muir has previously said she does not speak to rival Genzebe Dibaba after her coach, Jama Aden, a coach arrested as part of an anti-doping investigation.

Aden denies any doping offences, while Ethiopian world champion Dibaba has always maintained she is clean.

Muir said she needed to “minimise distractions and stresses” to allow her to focus on athletics and her degree in veterinary medicine.

Muir, who won 1500m silver and 3,000m bronze at the World Indoor Championships in March, will continue to be coached by Andy Young.