Doha, Qatar | AFP | World athletics chief Sebastian Coe insisted Wednesday the World Championships had not been “derailed” by the Alberto Salazar doping case after the high-profile coach was banned for four years.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Coe said the governing body had reacted swiftly after news broke that Salazar, the founder of the Nike Oregon Project training group, had been suspended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
“We’re dealing with it. It doesn’t derail the championship,” Coe told reporters.
“It may for you guys, but in reality it’s not a broader issue for most people watching the championships.”
Several athletes who are members of the Oregon Project are competing at the World Championships, and two have already romped to gold medals, the Netherlands’ Ethiopian-born 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan and men’s 800m winner Donavan Brazier of the United States.
Coe however cautioned against casting a blanket of suspicion over athletes who were members of the Oregon Project, warning that to do so risked guilt by association.
“I’m sorry, I don’t live in that world where you just automatically assume the worst,” Coe said.
“The reality of it is, the charges that have been laid by USADA are serious.”
Coe however encouraged athletes to scrutinise their training environments.
“If you are coached by somebody, you should be absolutely comfortable that you are working in an environment that’s safe and secure and is not going to damage your own reputation,” Coe said.
“(Athletes) should want to know what is being done in their name is done to the highest standards.”
Coe meanwhile defended Britain’s 2012 and 2016 Olympic hero Mo Farah for his long association with Salazar.
Farah split with the Oregon Project in 2017 after six years, but insisted USADA’s ongoing investigation into Salazar was unrelated to his decision.
“Mo is an outstanding athlete and as I said at the time, and I get asked the question, as I do regularly, should this athlete be with this coach?” Coe said.
“I say the burden of proof can only be on malfeasance. If that’s proven clearly they shouldn’t and if there are questions that are being raised, the athletes should ask really tough questions.
“If they remain with those coaches you have to presume they have had those questions satisfactorily answered.”