Nike shuts down Oregon Project following head coach Alberto Salazar's doping ban
The company said shutting down the project is in the best interests of the athletes involved
Nike is shutting down the Oregon Project. The long-distance running operation is shuttering after head coach and Olympic trainer Alberto Salazar was given a four-year doping ban.
The US Anti-Doping Agencyfor "orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct" and "multiple anti-doping rule violations" after investigating the situation for four years. They accused him of trafficking testosterone and administering prohibited IV infusions to athletes. He is appealing the ban.
Nike announced that a large reason the Oregon Project is shutting down is because they feel it has become an "unfair burden" on the athletes.
A spokesperson told CNN that despite many athletes speaking up for the banned coach and their lack of finding any wrongdoing, they must follow the rules of the procedure. Salazar is unable to coach while the appeal is in process.
They said (via: CNN)
"While the panel found there was no orchestrated doping, no finding that performance-enhancing drugs have ever been used on Oregon Project athletes and went out of its way to note Alberto's desire to follow all rules, ultimately Alberto can no longer coach while the appeal is pending. This situation including uninformed innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions has become an unfair burden for current OP athletes. That is exactly counter to the purpose of the team."
A Nike spokesperson also told CNN that "athletes and their needs" are "at the front" of the company's decisions regarding this entire situation. They plan to assist the athletes in whatever comes next for them.
The case is now in Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland and Nike "will continue to support Alberto in his appeal."
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