Nike executives initially backed Salazar in supporting his plans for an appeal against the decision that was taken by American arbitrators at the end of last month. But yesterday Nike CEO Mark Parker announced that the elite distance running programme that transformed the career of Mo Farah — among other top athletes — was being terminated due to the scandal.
Salazar was banned for trafficking testosterone, breaking anti-doping rules on infusions and tampering with the investigation conducted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), athletes at the Oregon Project were informed by the IAAF that they were forbidden from working with Salazar. They could, however, continue to work with other coaches based at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton. For Nike, however, the reputational damage goes way beyond the violations committed by Salazar and Dr Jeffrey Brown, who also received a four-year ban. Salazar and Brown deny any wrongdoing, obviously. Experiments that amounted to a breach of anti-doping regulations were conducted in the Nike lab at their global base, according to emails contained in the arbitrators’ decision, it appears the Nike CEO was even included in email correspondence about the scientific discoveries being made.
Mo Farah has of course come under fire for failing to cut ties earlier with Alberto Salazar. Farah resolutely refused to leave Salazar when a series of serious doping allegations first surfaced in 2015 and insisted the claims had nothing to do with his eventual exit from Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project in late 2017.