Pressure builds on Alberto Salazar over Mary Slaney link

Mo Farah was reunited with trainer Salazar at the Oregon Project this week

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The Independent Online

UK Athletics are seeking immediate answers from Alberto Salazar about his involvement with the former banned American athlete Mary Slaney, as concerns mount over his suitability to coach Mo Farah.

Fresh evidence emerged on Thursday to show that the under-fire Salazar coached the American middle-distance runner, who was famously tripped by Zola Budd at the 1984 Olympics, when she failed a drugs test at the 1996 United States trials.

Salazar had previously stated he was not Slaney’s coach at the time, while Farah said last Saturday that Salazar had told him for a fact he was not looking after Slaney during that period.

But a June 1996 edition of Runner’s World describes Salazar as Slaney’s coach while there is further evidence of the pair working together in an article from a Vermont newspaper in February 1997, unearthed by the BBC with the caption “Slaney confers with coach Alberto Salazar after the Olympic time trials”.

UKA previously stated they had done the necessary due diligence over Salazar’s eligibility to coach Farah when the Londoner moved to the Nike Oregon Project in 2011.

But yesterday UKA chairman Ed Warner admitted there were questions to be asked, when he said: “Am I’m confident there was due diligence? The answer is yes.

“Can I sit here and say I am confident that the due diligence unearthed everything it might have unearthed? I can’t say it unearthed everything it might have unearthed because I don’t know yet.

“The other thing is I’d like to see Alberto’s own explanation to that particular question. It was one of the questions raised in the Panorama programme. I’m expecting a pretty detailed and lengthy rebuttal from him with a lot of things in the programme. I guess we are all looking forward to his answers to that question. We’ll form a view of the quality of our due diligence when we have seen both sides of that debate.

“The longer the rebuttal is in coming, the more disappointed I am, as I want it out there. We will pore over that in the same way that you will and move on.”

The former head of endurance at the UKA, Ian Stewart, played an integral part in paving the way for Farah’s transatlantic switch four years ago.

Stewart, who is no longer with the body, said earlier in the week that “he knows for a fact” that Salazar “never coached Slaney”, but the mounting evidence would suggest otherwise about his involvement with an athlete who showed a testosterone to epitestosterone reading of six to one, higher than the allowance at the time.

Warner admitted he had yet to speak to Stewart on the issue. “It’s not right at the top of my agenda,” he said. “Talking to Ian Stewart to ask what he did and what Charles van Commenee [performance director at the time of Farah’s move to Salazar’s training group] did four years ago will come in due course but right now all of our efforts from a UKA perspective are on our review.”

Farah was reunited with Salazar at the Oregon Project this week when he flew back to his home having opted to miss the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham on Sunday. The decision led to a hefty rebuke from fans who had paid up to £50 a ticket to watch Farah race in the climax to the event, the 1500 metres.

Warner said UKA had done its utmost to get Farah to run. “He was absolutely determined that he wasn’t capable of running that day,” he said. “I can answer that many hours were extended by UKA to try to persuade him he was in shape to run.”