Opinion: Call me when USADA publishes a final document on Nike Oregon Project

May 26, 2017 0

© Copyright – 2017 – Athletics Illustrated

Flotrack, an online publication that promotes the sport of athletics (track and field) and based in Austin, Texas, published a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) document that implicates Nike Corporation’s Alberto Salazar of questionable performance enhancing drug practises. Despite rumours, Flotrack should not find themselves in the court-of-law fighting a suit from Nike, Nike Oregon Project (NOP) or Salazar, but USADA might for writing it, but really, call me when they write a final document.

The document in question is an interim report of USADA’s investigation of Dr. Jeffrey Stuart Brown, Alberto Salazar and the NOP. It was leaked by Fancy Bears of Russia.

In Texas, the language around publication law refers to the publication of inaccurate or harmful information, which is apparently okay, if the information is accurate to the source; correctly publishing information that originates from elsewhere. Whether the source is inaccurate or not is not the question, Flotrack is simply repeating USADA’s document, accurately.

They handily labelled it as an interim report, meaning if any information contained therein is inaccurate or harmful it can be corrected. They better publish a follow-up version.

Ironically the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) was banned and continues to be sanctioned from international competition including the Olympic Games and IAAF World Track and Field Championships.  Perhaps it is a little tit for tat revenge that Fancy Bears leaked the document first. Flotrack added their watermark logo to the document and published it last week.

However, USADA, the original source of the document may find themselves in a lawsuit for publishing inaccurate and or harmful material against Nike Corporation’s Nike Oregon Project (NOP) or Salazar. They will have to prove that he did indeed break USADA rules or US law.

NOP is managed and coached by marathon running legend Salazar. Salazar is implicated throughout the document for apparently questionable practises to do with administering, enabling, acquiring and coercing athletes into taking either performance enhancing drugs (PEDS) or supplements that enhance performance like L-Carnitine, a synthetic amino acid.

Salazar has long been suspected of straddling the legal line and avoids being in contravention of USADA and or World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) rules when it comes to apparent micro-dosing or heavy supplementation, however, nothing yet has been proven – it’s all been anecdotal or inadmissible information; anecdotal information without actual evidence. Although some athletes and coaches have gone to the press, such as the Guardian and New York Times, so far no legal action has taken place; to run the accusations through the legal process.

Were any laws broken? Certainly USADA and WADA suspect their rules have been broken, but for now, it is all conjecture and hearsay until proven otherwise; it’s merely a public relations mudslinging.

Additionally, no athlete connected with NOP has tested positive for PEDS.

Neither cyclist, Lance Armstrong nor sprinter Marion Jones had tested positive for PEDs, but they were later pushed and shoved around enough to come clean, sort of speak.

It is difficult to tell if Salazar has actually done anything wrong (to the letter of the law). And the argument could be made that he is staying on the legal side of dosing while competing against a sport that is rife with blatant dopers from Russia, Turkey, Jamaica, Ethiopia, and Kenya for example.

Perhaps the bigger question here should be, is Salazar trying to stay in reach of the competition, while remaining on the good side of legal? Is he at least doing that?

Over the past two years, many athletes from the aforementioned countries have tested positive for anabolic steroids such as the case with Turkey in the mass bust for Stanazolol. There have been Kenyans and Ethiopians suspended for EPO, the red blood cell booster, and Jamaicans have been suspended for taking stimulants.

In 2016, international coach Jama Aden was arrested in Spain and 20 of 22 of his athletes that were in the same hotel were tested for PEDs, however, everyone got off scot-free, the sting operation was an expensive, month-long, 24-hour  surveillance by Spanish police. It was not a light operation. One wonders who got paid off.

USADA and WADA may have nothing concrete on Salazar and if so, Nike or Salazar backed by Nike could sue USADA for creating inaccurate and harmful information unless it can otherwise be proven in the court-of-law first.

Either way, it will be an expensive undertaking to go after Nike through the legal process.

Nike apparently has a bottomless pit of money.  Good luck with that. For now, though, Flotrack just applied their name to and published a useless document of hearsay. Good thing they are publishing out of Texas.

Call me when USADA publishes a final finding on Salazar or Nike, that’s when the stuff will hit the fan.

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