Tuesday 25 June 2019

Calls for full investigation into Farah coach over prescription drug claims

Alberto Salazar. Photo: PA Wire
Alberto Salazar. Photo: PA Wire

Ben Bloom

Authorities have been urged to launch an independent investigation into claims that Mo Farah's coach, Alberto Salazar, put athletes' health at risk by mistreating prescription medication and abusing drug infusions.

A United States Anti-Doping Agency report leaked on Sunday claimed the American coach had "almost certainly" broken anti-doping rules.

The report, written in March 2016 and leaked by Russian hackers Fancy Bears, claimed that Salazar used a banned method of infusing a legal substance called L-carnitine and put athletes, including Farah, at risk by issuing them with potentially harmful prescription medication to boost athletic performance when they had no medical need.

It also alleged that John Rogers, a doctor attached to the British team, was so concerned about Farah's health that he wrote to UK Athletics' medical colleagues after Salazar had prescribed high doses of vitamin D in an attempt to boost testosterone levels.

Toni Minichiello, who coached Jessica Ennis-Hill to the Olympic, heptathlon title, says the health of athletes must be paramount.

"The huge concern for me is, if it is found that people are endangering the lives of athletes, that is disgraceful," he said. "Absolutely disgraceful.


"And it is hugely concerning. Sport is about the health of athletes, so for anybody to potentially be misusing prescription medication then that's a disgrace and they should be banned from the sport."

Salazar has said he does not use banned substances and stated that he believes in a "methodical, dedicated, approach to training".

Farah has stuck by his coach and insisted he is a "clean athlete who has never broken the rules in regards to substances, methods or dosages".

The report also alleges that another member of the UK Athletics medical staff was directed by Salazar to give the four-time Olympic champion an infusion of L-carnitine - a naturally-produced amino acid prescribed as a supplement for heart and muscle disorders.

When allegations first surfaced questioning Salazar's practices in June 2015, UK Athletics launched an investigation, which concluded that there was "no reason to be concerned" about Farah's association with his coach.

But Minichiello says there should be a deeper, more independent investigation.

"For the sake of the sport and for athletics to look clean, any investigation into this should be an external, independent investigation," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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