February 27, 2017
On Saturday, The Sunday Times published a story (behind a paywall) that relied on a leaked U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report from March 2016 released by the Russian hacking group Fancy Bears that accused Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar of abusing prescription medications to boost performance and using otherwise legal substances in prohibited ways that “almost certainly” broke anti-doping rules. Many of the allegations themselves were not new, but the USADA report was, as were various details and facts that had not been previously known, such as Salazar wanting to keep now disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong in the loop on his performance enhancing findings.
We gave our analysis of the initial Sunday Times story here: “Leaked USADA Report From 2016 Says Alberto Salazar “Almost Certainly” Broke Anti-Doping Rules, Used Prescription Meds And Drug Infusions To Boost Performance“ and suggest you read it. There were many unresolved questions however, including what exactly was the leaked report? Who was it for? In what stage of drafting was it? The Sunday Times later published another more detailed story (found here, but also behind a paywall) that has more facts about what was in the leaked report. We summarize some of the key new findings from the second article below and what it claims the USADA report alleges:
The USADA Report Was a 269-Page Report Sent to the Texas Medical Board
According to The Sunday Times, the report was a 269-page interim report sent by USADA to the Texas Medical Board in March 2016 concerning Dr. Jeffrey Brown, a thyroid expert who has worked closely with Salazar in the past. The report alleges that Brown provided Salazar’s athlete with prescription drug cocktails, often with no medical need and that, “Further, Usada has concluded that in so doing Dr Brown engaged in serial violations of professional, medical and ethical obligations to his patients, putting them at increased risk of injury to their health and wellbeing and in jeopardy of losing their athletic eligibility.”
- Some Athletes Were Reluctant Do Go Along With It But Feared Getting Dropped by NOP
The Sunday Times writes, “The report says he pressed other risky ‘pharmacological assistance’ on some of his athletes, believing the drugs would make them faster and stronger. Some were reluctant but feared losing their place on the NOP, it suggests.”
- Lance Armstrong and Galen Rupp Had a Special Level of Trust with Alberto Salazar
Previously it had been reported that Alberto Salazar was so excited about the performance enhancing findings of l-carnitine injections that he wrote Lance Armstrong in glee. The second story by The Sunday Times published more of the email from Alberto Salazar and showed that Galen Rupp and Lance Armstrong were the only athletes Salazar said he was going to tell of the finding. The Sunday Times says Alberto wrote Lance saying, “Lance, call me asap! We have tested it and it’s amazing. You are the only athlete I’m going to tell the actual numbers to other than Galen Rupp. It’s too incredible. All completely legal and natural! You will finish the iron man in about 16 minutes less while taking this.”
- Thyroid Medication and High Does of Other Substances Were Intended, Among Other Reasons, to Increase Testosterone, Which Salazar Saw as The Key to Performance
There has been debate in the sports science community as to whether and how thyroid medication can be a performance enhancer. According to the USADA report, Alberto Salazar believed it could help increase testosterone when used with other substances. The Sunday Times wrote “Salazar encouraged athletes to take thyroid medication and super-high doses of vitamin D. He believed this would increase testosterone, which he saw as the key to performance.” The USADA report had this conclusion, “Usada has found substantial and compelling evidence that Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar and Houston endocrinologist Dr Jeffrey Brown conspired to collude together in order to employ risky and untested alternative and unconventional (and sometimes potentially unlawful) uses of medical procedures and prescription medications (including both substances and methods prohibited and/or potentially prohibited under the rules of sport and those that were not) to attempt to increase the testosterone and energy levels and the recovery capacity of NOP athletes in order to boost athletics performance.” A British team medic, Dr. John Rogers, was interviewed under oath by USADA and said Salazar told him of “‘off-label and unconventional’ uses of the prescription medications calcitonin (to attempt to prevent stress fractures) and thyroxine (to boost testosterone levels) and of high doses of vitamin D and ferrous sulphate.”
- At Least 7 Athletes Received Thyroid Medication After Joining the Nike Oregon Project, Some With No Medical Need
From The Sunday Times “Usada found that at least seven runners were prescribed thyroid medication after joining the project. The medical records of some of them, reviewed by Usada, indicate no need for the medication.”
- Mo Farah Was Not Receiving Thyroid Medication But Was Receiving Other Prescription Drugs a British Doctor Thought Were Unsafe
The Sunday Times writes, “Farah was not on thyroxine but was taking the other drugs, which are not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). Rogers immediately sought to stop him doing so. He (Farah) had a medical condition that Salazar was unaware of which meant, according to Rogers, he should not have been prescribed vitamin D in such high doses or the calcitonin. The report notes that Farah continued using calcitonin until at least November that year.”
- Salazar ignored “medical evidence and his athletes’ long-term health prospects”
The Sunday Times quotes the USADA report saying Salazar’s methods, “came at the cost of substantial potential long-term health risks that were never fully or impartially explained. He repeatedly ignored the medical evidence and his athletes’ long-term health prospects in a quixotic and dangerous search for better performances in a bottle or a pill.”
- USADA Thought Athletes Were Getting L-Carnitine in Amounts That Were Banned and Steve Magness Got an Injection 20 Times the Legal Limit
Athletes may get injections of L-carnitine and be compliant with anti-doping rules, as long as it is in an amount of 50ml (3 tablespoons according to the article) or less every 6 hours. The Sunday Times writes, “The Usada report cites evidence that led its investigators to conclude the infusions were ‘almost certainly’ more than 50ml and therefore doping violations. They have worked this out from documents showing the prolonged time of the infusions, the large increases in L-carnitine in the athletes’ bodies and a written record of how much L-carnitine was prepared ahead of one infusion.” The Sunday Times says doping investigators concluded former Nike Oregon Project coach Steve Magness, who was the guinea pig for L-carnitine injections, received a four-hour infusion that was at least a liter — or 20 times the 50ml legal limit.
- The USADA Report Says Galen Rupp Gave “False” and “Seriously Misleading” Statements to The Sunday Times in 2015
In 2015, Rupp told The Sunday Times, “The first time I tried L-carnitine was in mid-2011 as a drink and I stopped taking it in 2012. I did not get any infusions or injections in 2011. I found no benefit so I stopped using it.” The Sunday Times wrote yesterday, “The Usada report describes Rupp’s statement as ‘false’ and ‘seriously misleading.'” It adds: “Rupp, in fact, received an L-carnitine infusion on January 5, 2012, in an amount Usada believes . . . may have exceeded the Wada 50ml limit and may therefore have constituted anti-doping rule violation. Rupp said yesterday that he had always fully complied with Wada rules and that L-carnitine treatment was with Usada’s directions.”LRC Editor’s note: The Sunday Times did not provide any evidence that would make Rupp’s statement ‘false.’ Rupp said he did not get any injections in 2011 and according to the article received an injection in January of 2012.
There is a third article “Extracts from the leaked anti-doping watchdog report” that has this claim:
- Alberto Salazar and Galen Rupp “Resisted, Delayed” and “Only Partially and Selectively Responded” to USADA’s Requests for Information
The Sunday Times has this excerpt:”C. IMPEDIMENTS TO USADA’S INVESTIGATION
1. Resistance to efforts to obtain documents from Salazar and Rupp
Alberto Salazar and Galen Rupp have strongly resisted, delayed complying with and only partially and selectively responded to USADA’s efforts to obtain relevant documents from them. For instance, as explained herein, Salazar has been staunchly resistant to USADA’s requests to review medical records substantiating his claims that he has a valid medical justification to possess and use testosterone. In response to USADA’s request that he turnover relevant emails he claimed that he was unauthorized to do so because his emails were on the Nike server system. Consequently, Salazar insisted that USADA must work with Nike to attempt to obtain the documents. Nike initially sought to place numerous conditions on USADA’s receipt of documents from Nike that would have greatly restricted USADA’s use of the documents. Eventually, Nike and Salazar dumped some 5,000 pages of documents on USADA less than three (3) business days before Salazar’s interview, affording USADA insufficient time to review the documents in advance of the interview.”
More: Initial LetsRun Story On This: LRC Leaked USADA Report From 2016 Says Alberto Salazar “almost certainly” Broke Anti-Doping Rules, Used Prescription Meds and Drug Infusions to Boost Performance
*Sunday Times Story #1: “Coach accused of endangering Mo Farah with drugs”
*Sunday Times Story #2: “Leaked doping report says Mo Farah was given risky treatment”
*Sunday Times Story #3: “Extracts from the leaked anti-doping watchdog report”
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