In October 2019, Alberto Salazar, former coach of the Nike Oregon Distance Project (NOP), and Dr. Jeffrey Brown received four-year bans for multiple anti-doping rule violations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). According to a statement from USADA, Salazar’s and Brown’s sanctions were “for orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct” while working with the NOP. One month later, both Salazar and Brown appealed the decision, and on Wednesday the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is finally hearing their case.
According to the schedule published yesterday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport is set to begin hearing Alberto Salazar's appeal of his four-year suspension for anti-doping violations tomorrow.
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) March 2, 2021
Salazar has coached multiple top athletes, including Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Kara Goucher and Sifan Hassan. Goucher was one of the main whistle-blowers in the case along with former NOP assistant coach, Steve Magness, and while she was satisfied that her former coach had received a ban, she said he should be banned for life, and questioned why some of his athletes continued to support him.
Shortly after Salazar was banned, another one of his prominent athletes, former high school superstar Mary Cain spoke with the New York Times, which published a shocking story detailing the emotional and physical abuse she received at the hands of her former coach. In a video, Cain described how her coaches pushed her to take birth control pills and diuretics to lose weight, and how they verbally abused her in front of her teammates. According to Cain, this abuse pushed her to the point of suicidality, and she left the team in 2015.
I had no idea it was this bad. I’m so sorry @runmarycain that I never reached out to you when I saw you struggling. I made excuses to myself as to why I should mind my own business. We let you down. I will never turn my head again.https://t.co/pfj0BIaEiS
— Shalane Flanagan (@ShalaneFlanagan) November 7, 2019
It has been less than two years since Salazar received his ban, and in that time he has denied any wrongdoing, both in the case of illegal drug conduct and with regard to abusing athletes like Cain. When he initially made his appeal of the decision in 2019, the courts said his case would likely not be heard until March 2020, but it has taken a full year longer for the case to move forward. He is finally set to testify to the CAS, and the world of distance running will be waiting to see if any changes to his original ban are made.