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NYT reports Alberto Salazar’s lifetime Safe Sport ban is for sexual assault

New details emerge about the basis for Salazar's lifetime ban

Photo by: Cal Hopkins/Wikimedia CC

In July 2021, former Nike Oregon Project head coach Alberto Salazar, who had been banned from coaching in 2019 for doping violations, received a permanent, lifetime coaching ban from the U.S. Center for SafeSport for sexual misconduct, and his attempt to appeal the decision was denied. It was previously understood that the sexual misconduct included sexually inappropriate comments. On Monday, The New York Times reported that the reasons for that lifetime ban also included two previously unreported allegations of sexual assault.

Alberto Salazar’s lifetime coaching ban upheld by SafeSport

According to the Times, the arbitrator’s report found that Salazar twice allegedly “penetrated a runner with his finger while giving an athletic massage.” The report included identifying details about the athlete, who was not named.

Salazar was first banned by SafeSport in January 2020 after several runners he coached reported he had emotionally and physically abused them while part of Nike’s Oregon Project. Multiple former athletes including Mary Cain and Kara Goucher reported body shaming and other inappropriate behaviour.

Mary Cain suing former coach Alberto Salazar, Nike

Currently, Salazar is serving a four-year ban from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for violating multiple anti-doping rules. None of his former athletes has ever been charged with any doping violations.

Alberto Salazar
Alberto Salazar coaching with the Nike Oregon Project. circa 2017

The Times reported that Salazar denied the accusations of sexual assault, claiming he did not speak to or see the runner on the days the assaults are alleged to have taken place. The arbitrator did not find Salazar’s explanation credible and upheld the ban.

The arbitrator’s decision has not been made public. The ban prevents Salazar from coaching at any USATF-affiliated meet or program in the U.S. Not all institutions recognize the organization, and in theory, he could still coach track at a private institution.