UK Athletics launches independent review into Salazar and Oregon Project

By PA Sport Staff

UK Athletics has commissioned an independent review into its dealing with Alberto Salazar and his Nike Oregon Project.

The American coach, who worked with Sir Mo Farah from 2011 to 2017, was banned for four years by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in October for doping violations but this month announced he would be challenging the sanction at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Nike said in October it was closing down the Oregon Project.

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Farah, who has won gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, has never failed a drugs test and has always strenuously denied breaking any anti-doping regulations.

Alberto Salazar with Mo Farah in 2012 (Martin Rickett/PA)
Alberto Salazar with Mo Farah in 2012 (Martin Rickett/PA)

The independent review, led by sports law barrister John Mehrzad, is expected to publish its findings “in or around spring 2020” on a range of specific questions relating to UKA’s response to allegations against Salazar in 2015 and 2017.

Mehrzad, who sat on the review panel into climate and culture at British Cycling and chaired a review into governance at the British Equestrian Federation, will address several specific questions about the governing body’s actions and processes.

They will specifically concern the UKA review into a Panorama investigation ‘Catch me if you can’ and the USADA leak by the ‘Fancy Bears’ group in 2017.

UKA chair Chris Clark said: “Our staff, athletes and coaches show immense dedication to this sport and are proud to be associated with British Athletics. We need to ensure we have a clear way forward that gives us confidence in the integrity of our coaching efforts.

Alberto Salazar has challenged his ban (Martin Rickett/PA)
Alberto Salazar has challenged his ban (Martin Rickett/PA)

“If there are lessons to be learnt, we plan to implement any recommendations into a future focused, transparent and accountable way of working.”

Sarah Rowell, who chaired the 2015 review of the Oregon Project, said: “There has been much written about what the Oregon Project review looked into, found or concluded in 2015, and I therefore welcome this review as an opportunity to establish the full facts and for those facts to be published for all to see.”

UKA has endured a turbulent few months, with performance director Neil Black leaving his role last month in the wake of Salazar’s ban. Black had previously described the American as a genius.

And earlier this week the governing body announced incoming chief executive Zara Hyde Peters would not take up her position following reports related to a safeguarding issue.

A report in the Times newspaper alleged that Hyde Peters’ husband, Mike Peters, was allowed to continue as a coach at Coventry Godiva Harriers despite being banned from teaching for an “inappropriate relationship” with a 15-year-old schoolgirl. Hyde Peters had been vice-chair of Coventry Godiva Harriers at the time.

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