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Nike Hindered Alberto Salazar Doping Investigation

A leaked report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency has revealed that footwear giant Nike hindered the doping investigation into Nike Oregon Project of Alberto Salazar.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Galen Rupp and Matthew Centrowitz, Nike Oregon Project athletes, provided samples that arose suspicion in the doping investigators ahead of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics. The Der Spiegel report further disclosed that it was reported by an employee of the United States Anti-Doping Agency that the T/E level of Rupp is elevated compared to athlete’s previous pattern in samples. The testosterone and epitestosterone levels are examined by drug testers for detecting any signs of doping. It was also revealed that further testing was requested but the results were not known. USADA made a note in the report that a hemoglobin value and reticulocyte count appeared to show a “suspicious profile.”

In 2016, Rupp was tested by USADA 14 times and Centrowitz was tested 17 times.

In February last year, Rupp won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and later qualified for the 10,000 meters on the track at the track trials in July. Rupp won the bronze medal in the Olympic marathon. Centrowitz, on the other hand, won the men's 1,500 meters in the Rio Olympics to become the first American man to win gold in the event since 1908.

The leaked USADA report also noted that Salazar had banned his athletes from having a word with each other about the vitamins and medications taken by them.

Previously, a leaked USADA report, which was written in March 2016, revealed Salazar has an “obsession with the testosterone levels of his athletes.” The alleged possession of testosterone gel from Salazar was first revealed in 2015. In reply, Salazar had remarked he has a prescription for testosterone to treat hypogonadism. The coach was asked by USADA to provide documents containing the words “testosterone,” “Testoboost” or “Testo.” Salazar did not provide the documents and remarked they were on server of Nike.

German magazine Der Spiegel said Nike wanted to sign a “confidentiality agreement” with the United States Anti-Doping Agency before complying. It was determined by a lawyer for USADA that the terms of agreement proposed by Nike would give unilateral control to Nike over the documents in the possession of USADA and further prevents the anti-doping agency from making use of the documents in any hearing. It was further added by the lawyer that the agreement also had the potential capacity to interfere with, delay or impede USADA’s investigation in a myriad of ways.

Nike provided some documents to the United States Anti-Doping Agency. In a statement, it said Nike to be clear has not tried to obstruct USADA’s investigations into the Oregon Project. The statement further reads that Nike has voluntarily cooperated with information requests from USADA, including turning over thousands of pages of documents to USADA, an effort that imposed a substantial cost and effort to Nike. It was also said that Nike did so even though USADA has no legal right to request or access the documents and has never informed Nike of the precise nature of its investigation. The statement by Nike also reads that Nike undertook this effort because it strongly believes in clean sport and does not tolerate the use of performance enhancing drugs and we welcome and respect the genuine efforts that are made to ensure that sport remains clean.

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Albert Wolfgang
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