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UK Athletics WILL NOT split with Alberto Salazar despite doping allegations made against Mo Farah's controversial coach

by 18/09/2015 04:27:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Mo Farah will be allowed to remain with his American coach Alberto Salazar after an independent UK Athletics review found nothing wrong
  • The UKA committee found the 'high performance system' to be robust and of the utmost integrity
  • Head of the Nike Oregon Project Salazar still under investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency following drug allegations 
  • UKA will be criticised for announcing findings on same day as the start of the Rugby World Cup after initial early August deadline 

By Matt Lawton For Mail Online

Published: 08:06 GMT, 18 September 2015 | Updated: 08:27 GMT, 18 September 2015

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Mo Farah will be allowed to remain with his American coach, Alberto Salazar, after an independent UK Athletics review into the 'high performance system' around the double Olympic champion was found to be robust and of the utmost integrity.

UKA officials will stand accused of trying to avoid any criticism by choosing to publish the findings of their three-person Performance Oversight Group on the opening day of the Rugby World Cup when it was promised 'no later' than the beginning of August. They also ignored requests from the media to stage a press conference at their headquarters in Birmingham.

But the committee, comprising former sprinter Jason Gardener, Dr Sarah Rowell and Anne Wafula-Strike, have emerged from their inquiry - one that saw them interview witnesses on both sides of the Atlantic - satisfied that there are no concerns around Salazar despite the head of the Nike Oregon Project now being the subject of an investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Alberto Salazar will continue to work with UK Athletics and with Mo Farah following the UK Athletics review

Alberto Salazar will continue to work with UK Athletics and with Mo Farah following the UK Athletics review

British athlete Mo Farah will continue to work with Salazar after a UK Athletics probe found the coach's 'high performance system' to be robust and of the upmost integrity 

British athlete Mo Farah will continue to work with Salazar after a UK Athletics probe found the coach's 'high performance system' to be robust and of the upmost integrity 

Farah (right) and the American athlete Galen Rupp (left) with Salazar after they took gold and silver respectively in the 10,000m at the London Olympics in 2012

Farah (right) and the American athlete Galen Rupp (left) with Salazar after they took gold and silver respectively in the 10,000m at the London Olympics in 2012

A statement released by UK Athletics read: 'UK Athletics today [Friday] announced the summary findings of the independent audit into its engagement with the Oregon Project carried out by the Performance Oversight Group (POG).

'In July we said that there was no evidence of any impropriety on the part of Mo Farah and no reason to lack confidence in his training programme. The Oversight Group have restated that view today. They have also found no reason to be concerned about the engagement of other British athletes and coaches with the Oregon Project.

'The review established that the vast majority of the endurance program’s interaction with the Oregon Project is in fact focused on Mo Farah, with very little other UK Athletics related activity. Coaching and support for Mo Farah will remain the focus of our engagement with the Oregon Project.

'The Oversight Group has made a number of organisational and procedural recommendations which UK Athletics’ Performance Director Neil Black will take forward and implement over the coming months.

'Obviously since our review was set up USADA announced that it was conducting an investigation into allegations made in respect of staff within the Oregon Project. USADA is clearly the right body to look at anti-doping issues. 

'They have asked us not to give any further details of our review until their work has concluded. We respect their request and are of course giving them our fullest support and co-operation.' 

Farah, the double Olympic champion, has strenuously denied all doping allegations 

Farah, the double Olympic champion, has strenuously denied all doping allegations 

Salazar is still under investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency

Salazar is still under investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency

It is understood as many as 20 witnesses linked to the Salazar-run Nike Oregon Project - where Farah has been based since early 2011 - have provided evidence and statements to Usada.

Indeed the Usada investigation, being run by top American lawyer Bill Bock and former New York City police detective Victor Burgos, have conducted their own inquiries both here in the UK and in the United States, with British officials providing witness statements under oath and on camera.

In his own detailed response to allegations of doping made originally by a BBC Panorama programme in May, Salazar even admitted testing a gel containing the banned steroid Testosterone on his sons. 

Because his sons are employed as athlete support staff by the Nike Oregon Project, that could yet be regarded as a direct breach of the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

Farah jumps for joy after winning gold in the 5,000m at the recent World Championships in Beijing

Farah jumps for joy after winning gold in the 5,000m at the recent World Championships in Beijing

Farah and Rupp train at the Nike Oregon Project in Beaverton, Oregon in this 2013 picture

Farah and Rupp train at the Nike Oregon Project in Beaverton, Oregon in this 2013 picture

At the time of the appointment of the UKA committee, UKA chairman Ed Warner had said: 'This review is a serious response to the questions raised in recent days. It demonstrates to all athletics fans the importance we place on ensuring that the high performance system around Mo Farah by British Athletics is robust and of the utmost integrity.

'We are taking nothing for granted however, and our independent directors are charged with conducting a rigorous review of that system in a timely manner.'

Yet this week UKA officials were keen to stress that the committee was not investigating doping allegations, pointing to the original terms of reference.

It's three main objectives were listed as:

1. To establish whether our organisation’s confidence in the Oregon Project is well founded in regard to Mo Farah’s training programme.

2. To establish whether our organisation’s confidence in the Oregon Project is well founded in regard to UKA’s overall Endurance Programme.

3. To consider any lessons learned as a result of this specific review for UKA’s overall Performance Programme.

Farah reacts after winning the 5,000m at the London Olympics in 2012

Farah reacts after winning the 5,000m at the London Olympics in 2012

Farah claimed both the 5,000m and 10,000m golds on home territory at the 2012 Games

Farah claimed both the 5,000m and 10,000m golds on home territory at the 2012 Games

Further to that it stated: 'In accordance with the WADA Code and National Anti-Doping Rules, and having taken advice from UK Anti-Doping, the Committee is not to investigate any conduct which might contravene any anti-doping rules. If any suspicion of a doping violation arises at any time, the Committee should immediately notify the relevant authority.'

The terms of reference added: 'The Committee should verify that UKA has exclusive responsibility for Mo Farah’s medical and nutritional interventions.'

Friday's statement certainly eases the pressure on UKA performance director Neil Black, who insisted the governing body had done its 'due diligence' on Salazar before allowing their star distance runner - who completed yet another golden double at this summer's world championships in Beijing - to move to Oregon.

This despite appearing to believe that Salazar had not coached convicted drug cheat Mary Slaney when even in his own autobiography Salazar admitted to coaching her.

Farah has said he will walk away from Salazar if any charges are brought against him. Both the British athlete and UKA now await the outcome of the Usada investigation.

 

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