Lopez Lomong Says He Was Verbally Berated By Alberto Salazar: “To see the outrage in his eyes, he was very, very mad. … It was very hard to see how unprofessional, the (lack of) sportsmanship.”

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by Jon Gugala and LetsRun.com
February 25, 2014

Update 2/26: Good news: Ken Goe of The Oregonian is reporting that Alberto Salazar has apologized to Lopez Lomong and Lopez is ready to put the incident behind him saying, “I completely accept his sincere apology. I am moving forward with a clean slate.” Discuss in this thread.

If the no DQ, yes DQ, no DQ saga in the women’s 3,000 and the perhaps phantom DQ of Andrew Bumbalough and the near fight between fellow Nike coaches Alberto Salazar and Jerry Schumacher after the men’s 3,000 at the 2014 USA Indoors wasn’t enough drama for you already, we’ve got even more drama from this weekend.

LetsRun.com had previously reported that after the men’s 3,000, Salazar had allegedly got in the face of one of Schumacher’s athletes and yelled at him. Now we know who that athlete is and some of the alleged details.

Agent Tom Ratcliffe has come on record and claimed that Nike Oregon Project coached Alberto Salazar verbally berated 2008 US Olympic flag-bearer Lopez Lomong after the race. In an email to reporter Jon Gugala, he wrote:

“The more troubling aspect of this saga (the men’s 3,000 race) is Rupp’s coach’s verbal assault of Lopez in the mixed-zone after the 3,000. Lopez was visibly shaken by this encounter and it seems this too warrants action by USATF. Again, if you watch the video, it’s hard to understand what precipitated this egregiously unsportsmanlike conduct.”

In an email to LetsRun.com, Ratcliffe wrote, “Lopez was verbally assaulted by Rupp’s coach after the 3,000 … anyone else would have had their credential pulled and would have been escorted from the area.”

Gugala reached out to Lomong this afternoon and got details of what happened

Lopez Lomong says Salazar was very mad and got in his face and started yelling angrily about “Everything we (Lomong and his Jerry Schumacher coached fellow athletes Andrew Bumbalough and Ryan Hill) are doing to jeopardize his athlete’s (Galen Rupp) performance.”

“You’re always doing this, and it’s bulls—-,” Lomong says Salazar said.

“I did not touch your athlete,” Lomong says he told Salazar on Saturday evening. Then he says Salazar screamed, “Of course you did. You and [Bumbalough].”

In Albuquerque, when you’re coming down from the track, the mixed zone is where kids are asking autographs, and there’s a USATF merchandise shop selling apparel. That’s where it happened, Lomong says. He says Salazar had to be physically restrained by other coaches, who were “talking him down.”

Lopez Lomong bounced back after Saturday’s altercation quite well – by winning the 1,500 on Sunday. More 2014 USA Photos.

“To see the outrage in [Salazar's] eyes, he was very, very mad,” Lomong says. “I didn’t even have any contact with [Rupp] at all, but with [Bumbalough], it didn’t matter.”

“It was very hard to see how unprofessional, the (lack of) sportsmanship. I know there’s a lot of people that heard the whole thing. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I could not believe it. I can’t believe it happened.”

Lomong reiterates he had no contact with Rupp in the race: “I did not tag anybody.” But Lomong says Salazar screamed back, “You did. You’re trying to jeopardize my athlete’s performance.”

“[For Bumbalough and I], it was pretty weird to single us out like that,” Lomong says. “That’s what really makes me sad. I came from really far. I came from a lot in my life. I want to compete as much as I can for my country.”

Salazar, Nike, and USATF have all been contacted for comment on the incident by Jon Gugala.

Update 2/26: Good news: Ken Goe of The Oregonian is reporting that Alberto Salazar has apologized to Lopez Lomong and Lopez is ready to put the incident behind him saying, “I completely accept his sincere apology. I am moving forward with a clean slate.”. Discuss in this thread.

More: *Nike Coaches Alberto Salazar And Jerry Schumacher Have Heated Exchange, Have To Be Separated After Men’s 3,000 At 2014 USA Indoors 
*
Agent For Bumbalough And Lomong Comments On DQ/Salazar Berating Lomong
*Lopez Lomong On Salazar Screaming