Track coach Alberto Salazar accused of cheating by former team members

Alberto Salazar
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At least seven former athletes and staff members of the Nike Oregon Project track group spoke with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, according to the BBC and ProPublica, which reported that those formerly close to the group’s coach Alberto Salazar said Salazar violated medical and anti-doping rules with his athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said “any investigation will be a matter for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the IAAF, and the relevant information shall be passed to them,” in a statement.

USADA said in the BBC and ProPublica reports that it does not confirm the existence of ongoing investigations.

Salazar’s methods included “the use of banned steroids and unethical practices,” according to the BBC.

Former Salazar assistant Steve Magness said the coach “achieved the pinnacle of distance running success by cheating,” according to ProPublica.

Salazar denied wrongdoing.

“No athlete within the Oregon Project uses a medication against the spirit of the sport we love,” Salazar said in an email, according to ProPublica.

Salazar, who won three straight New York City Marathons from 1980-82, coaches Olympic 10,000m gold and silver medalists Brit Mo Farah and American Galen Rupp, among other athletes.

Neither Farah nor Rupp has ever failed a drug test.

“I have not taken any banned substances and Alberto has never suggested that I take a banned substance,” Rupp said, according to the BBC, with ProPublica adding that Farah also emailed a similar statement.

Farah was not implicated in “inappropriate drug use” by any of the former Nike Oregon Project team members interviewed, according to ProPublica.

Salazar and Rupp issued further statements to media Wednesday, via The Associated Press and the Oregonian:

“I believe in a clean sport and hard work, and so do my athletes,” Salazar said. “Apparently that is not interesting enough for some.  I am very disappointed that the BBC and ProPublica and their ‘reporters’ have allowed themselves to be used by individuals with agendas and have engaged in such inaccurate and unfounded journalism. Rather than present the facts, they opted for sensationalism and innuendo. It is particularly sad that they have attacked Galen and his excellent reputation, which he has earned through years of hard work.”

“I am very disappointed in the BBC and ProPublica,” Rupp said. “I am dedicated to clean sport and have worked extemely hard for every accomplishment in my running career. I expressly told these reporters that these allegations were not true and their sources admit they have no evidence, yet they print “suspicions” attacking me and sullying my reputation. That is inexcusable, irresponsible journalism.”

Magness and former Nike Oregon Project runner Kara Goucher, a two-time U.S. Olympian, said they witnessed concerning practices with Rupp, a 29-year-old coached by Salazar since high school.

In a BBC TV report accompanying the website reports Wednesday, a reporter told Goucher that Rupp was the most drug tested U.S. athlete.

“So was Lance Armstrong,” Goucher responded. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

Magness said he saw a document that stated Rupp was on “testosterone medication” banned for athletes at a date that corresponded to when Rupp was in high school.

“Magness claimed when he questioned the coach about the document, Salazar said it had been a mistake,” the BBC reported.

Goucher said that when she was coached by Salazar, the coach told her to take a thyroid medication for which she did not have a prescription and was told by her doctor not to take.

“I loved him,” Goucher, tearing up on the BBC broadcast, said of Salazar, whom she left as a coach in 2011. “He was like a father figure to me [Goucher’s father was killed by a drunk driver when she was 4]. It feels like a betrayal, a little bit.”

Rupp finished third in a 5000m at the Prefontaine Classic meet in Eugene, Ore., last Friday. Rupp and other U.S. athletes can qualify for August’s World Championships at the U.S. Championships in Eugene, Ore., in three weeks.

Galen Rupp talks training with Mo Farah, marathons, weird drug test story

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier win U.S. figure skating pairs’ title in possible final nationals

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier haven’t decided if they’ll compete beyond this season, so Saturday may have been their farewell to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

If so, they went out as dominant winners, the first pair in their 30s to win nationals in more than 50 years.

Knierim, 31, and Frazier, 30, took their second U.S. title together, totaling 227.97 points to prevail by 31.11 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe. They led by a gaping 15.1 points after Thursday’s short.

Knierim and Frazier were solid after errors on their opening jumping combination in Saturday’s free skate. They broke their own pairs’ margin of victory record from the 2021 U.S. Championships under a scoring system implemented in 2006. Knierim appeared to wipe away tears backstage.

“As I get older, the longer I’m in this sport, the more gratitude I have for it,” Knierim, the oldest woman to win a U.S. figure skating title since 1995 (Renée Roca), said on USA Network. “After that music ended, I’m just thankful that Brandon’s by my side and I’m able to do what I love.”

Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea bagged bronze to likely round out the three-pair team for March’s world championships.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Knierim and Frazier considered retiring after last season, after they missed nationals due to Frazier’s COVID-19, petitioned onto the Olympic team and posted the best Olympic finish for a U.S. pair (sixth) in 20 years.

They then became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, beating a field that didn’t include any of the top five from the Olympics.

They returned in part to compete as world champions and rank second in the world this season (during which the top Olympic pairs also haven’t competed). They will likely go into March’s worlds in Japan as underdogs to Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who won their lone head-to-head this past fall at the Grand Prix Final.

Back in October, Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“This U.S. Championships for us was extra special because you’re just reflecting on the journey, and you know that there’s a good chance that this will be your last one,” Frazier said.

Knierim won her fifth U.S. title, tying the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka InaTai BabiloniaRandy GardnerKarol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Silver medalists Chan and Howe continued their recent surge. After placing fourth at last season’s nationals, they rank sixth in the world this season. That’s despite summer injuries that left them unable to practice lifts (his shoulder) and throws (her foot) for a while.

Kam, 18, and O’Shea, 31, made the podium four months after becoming a pair and less than two months after a car Kim was riding in was hit by a drunk driver while crossing an intersection. The car was totaled, but Kim and O’Shea still competed days later in Croatia.

O’Shea won the 2016 U.S. title with Tarah Kayne, retired after they split in late 2020, then came back in 2021 with Chelsea Liu. They ranked sixth in the U.S. going into 2022 Nationals, but withdrew beforehand due to concussions both suffered in a November competition fall, according to Figure Skaters Online.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Women
Gold: Isabeau Levito — 223.33
Silver: Bradie Tennell — 213.12
Bronze: Amber Glenn — 207.44
4. Starr Andrews — 188.24
5. Josephine Lee — 187.68
6. Lindsay Thorngren — 187.19
7. Clare Seo — 175.60
8. Gracie Gold — 173.98
9. Ava Ziegler — 167.70
10. Sonja Hilmer — 166.49
11. Gabriella Izzo — 166.40
12. Ting Cui — 161.27
13. Audrey Shin — 161.12
14. Lindsay Wang — 154.91
15. Michelle Lee — 145.28
16. Elsa Cheng — 138.13
17. Alexa Gasparotto — 129.41
WD. Hanna Harrell

Men’s Short Program
1. Ilia Malinin — 110.36
2. Jason Brown — 100.25
3. Tomoki Hiwatashi — 85.43
4. Liam Kapeikis — 82.27
5. Andrew Torgashev — 78.78
6. Maxim Naumov — 77.71
7. Jimmy Ma — 73.88
8. Goku Endo — 73.45
9. Samuel Mindra — 71.36
10. Yaroslav Paniot — 70.87
11. Camden Pulkinen — 69.47
12. Matthew Nielsen — 67.98
13. Joonsoo Kim — 67.45
14. Daniel Martynov — 64.04
15. Will Annis — 63.46
16. Dinh Tran — 60.63
17. Mitchell Friess — 59.14
18. Joseph Klein — 58.38

Pairs
Gold: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 227.97
Silver: Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 196.86

Bronze: Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea — 184.01
4. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 179.08
5. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 176.34
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 172.74
7. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 148.84
8. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 137.98
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 135.30
10. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 132.07
11. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 129.80

Ice Dance
Gold: Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 229.75
Silver: Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 207.46
Bronze: Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 198.45
4. Emilea Zingas/Vadym Kolesnik — 198.13
5. Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville — 189.84
6. Lorraine McNamara/Anton Spiridonov — 189.15
7. Katarina Wolfkostin/Jeffrey Chen — 183.05
8. Eva Pate/Logan Bye — 182.61
9. Oona Brown/Gage Brown — 181.89
10. Isabella Flores/Ivan Desyatov — 177.31
11. Angela Ling/Caleb Wein — 167.87
12. Leah Krauskopf/YuanShi Jin — 133.93
13. Cara Murphy/Joshua Levitt — 129.85
14. Caroline Depietri/TJ Carey — 123.40
WD. Raffaella Koncius/Alexey Shchepetov

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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