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Alberto Salazar, Coach and Champion Runner, Barred From Sport for Life

The distance running coach Alberto Salazar was ruled permanently ineligible by the U.S. Center for SafeSport on Wednesday, all but completing the stunning downfall of the sport’s most famous coach, who had long been financially backed by Nike.

Salazar, 63, will not be allowed to participate in any activity put on by or under the auspices of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee or any sport national governing body.

He was suspended by SafeSport in early 2020 and ruled permanently ineligible in July for what SafeSport said was emotional misconduct and sexual misconduct, a ruling that Salazar appealed. According to the SafeSport discipline database, Salazar’s ban is for sexual misconduct, suggesting that he successfully appealed the emotional misconduct charge but not the sexual misconduct one. SafeSport declined to comment.

It is not known what offense or offenses Salazar was barred for. SafeSport, an independent body that handles abuse and misconduct cases in Olympic sports, does not release its rulings. Maurice Suh, Salazar’s lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment.

For nearly four decades, Salazar was at the forefront of American running. He won marathons in New York City and Boston in the 1980s and competed in the 1984 Olympics. In the early 2000s, he co-founded the Nike Oregon Project, a running group funded by Nike and based in Beaverton, Ore., which attempted to boost American competitiveness in distance running.

Salazar’s downfall began in 2019, when an independent arbitration panel upheld a ban against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. He appealed that ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and after a lengthy delay because of the coronavirus, the ban was upheld in September. The Court of Arbitration for Sport determined that Salazar possessed testosterone; was complicit in a doctor administering improper infusion of L-carnitine, a substance that converts fat into energy; and tampered with the doping control process.

Soon after Salazar was suspended in 2019, a number of female runners he coached came forward to accuse him of emotional abuse and fat shaming. Mary Cain accused him of shaming her for her weight in front of other team members, and Amy Yoder Begley, an Olympian, said Salazar verbally abused her and told her he was kicking her out of the Nike Oregon Project because she had “the biggest butt on the start line,” among other accusations of misbehavior. Cain has also sued Salazar, who has denied abusing any athletes, in an Oregon court. The case is continuing.

Nike, which sponsored Salazar in the 1980s, employed him in its marketing department in the 1990s and funded his coaching of the Oregon Project for nearly 20 years. The company initially stood behind him, and funded the appeal of his doping suspension. But as more athletes accused him of misbehavior and employees marched in protest, the company backed away from him.

Nike shut down the Oregon Project, and when SafeSport first barred Salazar in July, the company noted that “Alberto is no longer a contracted coach.” In August, the company removed Salazar’s name from a building on its campus.

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