Alberto Salazar calls cheating accusations ‘demonstrably false’ in 11,000-word response

Alberto Salazar
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Nike Oregon Project head coach Alberto Salazar called allegations of cheating from his former athletes and staff “demonstrably false” after spending hours reviewing information from the past 15 years to write an 11,000-word response to BBC and ProPublica reports from June 3.

Salazar denied that he violated medical and anti-doping rules with his athletes.

“Some have tried to console me by saying public attacks like these are the price of success in today’s world,” Salazar wrote to conclude a two-part letter published on nikeoregonproject.com. “You win: people will try to tear you down. That’s not my world. That’s not the Oregon Project. Here, success is earned with talent, hard work, dedication and fair play…. and, that’s how it is going to stay. Let the haters hate; we’re going to keep winning through hard work, dedication and fair play.”

Salazar attached 30 documents — including copies of emails with medical and training information for his athletes — 15 days after he said he hoped to be afforded “a short time to show the accusers are knowingly making false statements. I will document and present the facts as quickly as I can,” according to the Guardian.

Salazar’s prized American runner, Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp, was one of the focuses of the BBC and ProPublica reports. Rupp has never failed a drug test.

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

In the June 3 BBC TV report, 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.”

In Wednesday’s response, Salazar said that Rupp provided the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) “with over 500 pages of medical records and documents regarding his asthma treatment and the medications he had taken” dating to May 2001.

USADA is investigating the allegations against Salazar, according to The Associated Press.

“Allegations that Galen takes asthma and thyroid medicine for competitive purposes are inaccurate and hurtful,” Salazar wrote. “Galen takes asthma medication so he can breathe normally – not so he can run better.

“All Oregon Project athletes are instructed to declare any and all supplements that they are currently taking on their USADA or IAAF Doping Control Official Record forms whenever they are tested. Neither USADA nor the IAAF has ever raised an issue with any of the supplements listed on an Oregon Project athlete’s declaration form.”

Rupp is scheduled to compete in the USA Track and Field Championships in the 5000m and 10,000m. His first race is the 10,000m on Thursday at 11:15 p.m. ET at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

USA Track and Field Championships TV schedule

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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