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Alberto Salazar responds to USADA investigation reports

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Track coach Alberto Salazar again denied breaking anti-doping rules following more reports of details from an ongoing U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Salazar and his Nike Oregon Project program.

“As I have noted repeatedly, the successes my athletes have achieved are through hard work and dedication,” Salazar wrote in an email Wednesday, according to the Oregonian. “I believe in a clean sport and a methodical, dedicated, approach to training. The Oregon Project will never permit doping and all Oregon Project athletes are required to comply with the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] Code and IAAF Rules.”

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the USADA investigation determined then-Nike Oregon Project runner Dathan Ritzenhein “likely” received an infusion of the substance L-carnitine above the legal dosage limit in December 2011.

An interim USADA report published by Flotrack backed the Times report regarding Ritzenhein while saying its findings were “subject to change” at “this preliminary stage” of the investigation. It also agreed with previous reports that other Salazar-coached athletes received L-carnitine infusions and said it was “highly likely” they were above the legal limit of 50 milliliters per six-hour period.

“USADA’s conjecture regarding the L-carnitine injections is simply wrong,” Salazar wrote Wednesday, according to the Oregonian. “Evidence has been submitted to USADA disproving their unsupported assumptions.”

Salazar said the Nike Oregon Project has “nothing to hide.”

“I’ve done more than any coach to continuously disprove false allegations where no violation has occurred,” he wrote. “I fully cooperated, voluntarily answered USADA’s questions under oath and provided thousands of documents.”

The three-time Olympian Ritzenhein, who left Salazar’s group in 2014, said he “complied with all WADA rules, including my use of L-carnitine,” in a reported 2015 statement.

At least seven former athletes and staff members of Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project have spoken with USADA, some alleging that Salazar violated medical and anti-doping rules with his athletes, according to June 2015 reports.

Salazar called allegations of cheating from his former athletes and staff “demonstrably false” in an 11,000-word response three weeks after the June 2015 reports.

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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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