SafeSport bans track coach Alberto Salazar over 'emotional misconduct'

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July 27 (UPI) -- Alberto Salazar, a former Nike coach for top distance runners, has been permanently barred by a nonprofit watchdog from coaching American track and field athletes over accusations of misconduct.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport cited Salazar for sexual and emotional misconduct and designated him "permanently ineligible" to participate in track and field activities. It did not detail the accusations.

The center, founded in 2017 to protect young athletes from sexual, physical and emotional abuse, works with American Olympic athletes.

Salazar, 62, has ten days to request an appeal. He has previously denied all accusations of misconduct.

He was temporarily barred in January 2020 after elite female runners, including Mary Cain, Amy Yoder Begley and Kara Goucher, described what they called physical and verbal abuse by Salazar.

Cain, who trained with Salazar for two years, spoke out about her experience as a member of the Nike Oregon Project in a New York Times video. She said Salazar shamed her in front of others on the team for not reaching weight targets. Her low weight threw off her biological cycle for three years and led to lower estrogen levels and five broken bones, she said.

Yoder Begley tweeted in 2019 that she was removed from the Oregon Project after losing a race in the 2011 U.S. Track and Field Championships. The 2008 Olympian said Salazar told her she was too fat. Goucher told The Times that she was underfed by an assistant coach.

Salazar told Sports Illustrated in 2019 that his "foremost goal" was to promote athletic performance, but added that he "may have made comments that were callous or insensitive."

"I do dispute, however, the notion that any athlete suffered any abuse or gender discrimination while running for the Oregon Project," he said, according to SI.

Nike employed Salazar for over two decades, even naming a building after him on its Beaverton, Ore., campus.

A former runner himself, Salazar won the Boston Marathon in 1982 and the New York City Marathon in 1980, 1981 and 1982. He guided Mo Farah of Britain in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, where he won gold medals in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races.

Several of Salazar's former athletes are competing in the Summer Games in Tokyo.

Fireworks conclude the Opening Ceremony after the lighting of the Olympic Flame for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on Friday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

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