The head of the US Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, who led the conviction of Alberto Salazar for doping offences has hit back at Paula Radcliffe for questioning whether their investigation was money and time well spent.
Salazar, who was coach to Mo Farah when he won his four Olympic gold medals, was banned for four years for doping offences last week but Radcliffe, who has been a vocal campaigner against doping to the point in the past, seemed equivocal about the investigation into the Nike Oregon Project and its doctor, Jeffrey Brown, who has also been banned from the sport.
Radcliffe, former world marathon champion, said that the sanction against Nike coach Salazar was the ‘right decision’ but went on to question whether the time and money spent on the investigation would have been better directed on research and speculated whether the timing was related to USADA’s failure to get sprint star Christian Coleman banned, a claim she later retracted.
Coach Alberto Salazar (above) was banned for four years for doping offences last week
The BBC failed to disclose Radcliffe’s long-standing sponsorship links with Nike nor the fact that when Farah left Salazar in 2017, two years after the allegations first surfaced, he moved to train with Radcliffe’s husband, Gary Lough. Nike are understood to have funded the defence lawyers of Salazar and Brown.
Asked about Radcliffe’s comments, Tygart said: ‘I guess it’s disappointing but that time and effort was needed to get to the truth. It was the efforts by this doctor and this coach to avoid the truth which [meant it] took as long as it took, which none of us our happy about.
‘And the expense that went into it is was because of the money that was spent on the other side attempting to hide the truth. The rich and the powerful will cheat the world if you can’t get to the truth because of the money and the power that those who are trying to hide the truth have. We took on the obligation to protect clean athletes and took on the job that we’re supposed to do.
Paula Radcliffe questioned whether the investigation was money and time well spent
‘If people don’t like that, that’s fine. We’ll turn spot into a free-for-all where you can have medication programmes and jeopardise the health and safety of athletes. If that’s what we want sport to be, we’ll close shop and get other jobs. But I don’t think that’s what sport should be and I don’t think that’s what athletes in clean sport and fair play want. I think sport will be ruined if it goes down that track.’
Tygart, who also exposed Lance Armstrong as a serial doper in a similarly exhaustive investigation, revealed that bringing charges against Salazar and Doctor Jeffrey Brown was tougher than the Armstrong probe.
‘Yes, that’s fair comment,’ he said. ‘With the doctor [Brown], we had ten athletes who consented for us to get medical records and talk to the doctor about these medical records and the treatment they were on because they didn’t even know themselves what they were on. At every turn they blockaded our effort to get the facts. And our job is to exonerate the innocent as much as to convict the guilty and they frustrated that at every turn
‘The efforts they went to, to hide the truth and obstruct the process, made if by far more difficult [than the Armstrong case]. The case was a different case. On the good hand, long gone, in certain spheres, are the days of blood transfusions and sophisticated intentional doping at the level we saw in cycling during that time period. This is now trying to find the margins and grey area. Clearly they crossed a line, the panel found. In that sense it’s a lot more challenging to prove those kind of cases.’