Home > The Scene

Kara Goucher accuses Alberto Salazar of sexual assault in new memoir

The two-time U.S. Olympian reveals she was the athlete who testified against Salazar to U.S. Safe Sport

Photo by: Kevin Morris

Two-time U.S. Olympian and 2007 world championship silver medallist Kara Goucher alleges in her new book The Longest Race, published Tuesday, that she is the woman behind the sexual assault allegations against Alberto Salazar that resulted in his lifetime coaching ban by the U.S. Center for SafeSport in 2021.

In 2004, Goucher became the first woman to join the Nike-sponsored Oregon Project, led by Salazar, after a storied collegiate career at the University of Colorado, which saw her win three individual NCAA championships (two in track and once in cross country). In her book, she says she wanted to go to the Olympics, and that Salazar said he would help her get there.

Salazar was one of the best marathoners in the world in the early 1980s, winning the New York City Marathon three times and Boston once. He also set the American record over the 5,000m and 10,000m on the track in 1982. 

Kara Goucher at the 2008 Boston Marathon. Photo: Stewart Dawson

Goucher reveals that she was impressed by how personable he was, and his knowledge of the sport. “Salazar went above and beyond for his athletes,” Goucher told ABC News in an interview. “He was giving personal massages to his athletes, something I’ve never seen before […] I just thought it was normal.”

The 44-year-old retired runner, who was in her late 20s at the time, recalls Salazar touching her inappropriately during a massage at a hotel in Rieti, Italy. “It felt wrong,” Goucher expressed. “I didn’t tell anyone at the time.”

Goucher claims the same scenario happened again while the two were in Lisbon, competing at the 2009 Lisbon Half Marathon. 

She ended up leaving the NOP in 2011 and did not talk about the alleged assault until she was questioned by lawyers on doping allegations against Salazar as part of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) probe in 2017.

In 2019, Salazar was suspended for four years by USADA for doping violations. And in 2021, the famed coach was banned for life by U.S. SafeSport for sexual misconduct. The U.S. Center for SafeSport is an independent not-for-profit that reviews allegations of sexual misconduct and can impose sanctions.

In the book, Goucher says she testified about the alleged touching in front of a U.S. Safe Sport panel and confirmed that her allegations were used as the basis for Salazar’s lifetime ban.

Salazar told ABC News in a statement that any claim made against him for sexual assault is categorically untrue. “I have never sexually assaulted Mrs. Goucher and never would have done so. The accusation is deeply hurtful, abhorrent and contrary to my fundamental beliefs as a husband, father and Catholic.”

Goucher said she is appreciative of Salazar’s guidance, but at the end of the day, “he should not be coaching.”

Her book The Longest Race was released on March 14.

Check out the latest buyer's guide:

Top 10 shoes our testers are loving this April

We tested tons of great shoes this year, but only the very best make the list