Two of the main whistleblowers about the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) have accused Alberto Salazar of lying in his lengthy public rebuttal to claims he oversaw doping among his athletes.
Salazar’s former assistant Steve Magness hit back at the suggestion his contract was terminated at NOP for being “a poor coach”, while massage therapist John Stiner said he was willing to undergo “20 lie detector tests” to prove the validity of his claims against Mo Farah’s coach.
Salazar tried to dismiss Magness’ allegations by questioning his coaching credentials and claiming he had an affair with a female athlete at NOP. But Magness, whose contract was officially ended in a letter from Nike on 27 June 2012, has revealed emails between himself and Salazar that appear to show Salazar still had full faith in Magness prior to his departure and contradicting his claim that Magness was a poor coach.
Explaining he would not be attending a camp in Park City for 10 days, Salazar is alleged to have written on 7 May that year to members of the NOP team: “Steve knows the guys good enough that I have complete confidence he’ll take care of all of them.”
Magness also claims that Salazar, just 24 hours later, emailed to give him the all-clear to direct the coaching of Lindsay Allen. “I think that’s a great idea for you to take over her coaching,” Salazar is alleged to have written.
The emails would be in stark contrast to the claims made by Salazar in his near 12,000-word response in which he said that Magness “proved to be a poor coach who had difficulty building rapport with world-class athletes”. He added: “It is now apparent that Magness has not moved on and seems willing to make these false statements, say anything regardless of the truth and hurt innocent people in order to hurt me.” Magness also made public his termination letter from Nike, which concluded: “We would like to thank you for your association with Nike. Should an opportunity present itself to work together again in the future, Nike would welcome consideration of such opportunity.”
Among Magness’ allegations are that he saw medical records suggesting Farah’s training partner Galen Rupp had been taking testosterone from the age of 16. Salazar claims it was a legal supplement aimed at increasing testosterone production.
Stiner also made a number of claims in the BBC Panorama documentary three weeks ago, which Salazar tried to unpick in his exhaustive denial. But the massage therapist, who had worked with the NOP athletes for a six-week period, hit back at accusations he was lying. “I told 100 per cent the truth,” said Stiner. “I’ll take 20 lie detector tests. Of course he said I’m lying.”
Stiner had raised concerns over finding a testosterone gel, Androgel, at a training camp, which he said Salazar claimed was for his heart. In his public rebuttal Salazar said that was incorrect and it had been “for my overall health”. As for the vials of clear liquid and hypodermic needles found by Stiner, Salazar dismissed them as medication to treat Rupp’s allergies.
Farah, meanwhile, continues to train in the Pyrenees as he prepares for his track return at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco on 17 July. He tweeted a picture of himself training with the words “GoHardOrGoHome”.
Farah has stood by Salazar after saying he needed to give his coach the opportunity to clear his name. Salazar has told the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion he had done nothing wrong.
As for Rupp, currently competing at the US Trials in Eugene, Oregon, his parents broke their silence on the allegations made against their son.His father, Greg Rupp, a respiratory therapist, described Salazar as “a second father” to his son and was confident he was not guilty of any doping practices.
“He has been very involved in what goes into Galen’s body and how it could potentially be construed or misconstrued,” said Rupp Snr. “He always has erred on the side of being safe as far as Usada [the United States Anti-Doping Agency] and Wada [the World Anti-Doping Agency] is concerned. I couldn’t have picked a better role model for Galen to be involved with. Alberto is just a good person.”
Meanwhile, his mother, Jamie Rupp, who is a registered nurse, said: “They were just such outrageous allegations and baseless and just not true. For both of us, one of the hardest things to wrap our brains around is what would motivate people to make those allegations based on nothing.
“It’s outrageous some of the things they were saying Alberto was giving our child. First of all, we are very involved parents. We have a very close relationship with Galen and especially when he was a child in high school living with us.”Reuse content