Natalia Rodriguez's Coach Talks About Doping Scandal, Looks Back to 2009 and Sees Some Thing Differently

Translated by Stewart Atkins for
December 21, 2010

Editor's note: reader Stewart Atkins has been translating some articles for us on the track and field doping scandal in Spain.  Below is the translation of this El Pais article.  The article is by Miguel Escalona, the coach of Natalie Rodriguez. Rodriguez crossed the finish line first at last year's World Championships in Berlin but then was DQd for knocking down another runner.

Coach of Natalia Rodriguez speaks.  El Pais, December 20, 2010

We have to see this through and win back our credibility

Miguel Escalona, December 20, 2010

El Pais

I’ve spent these past few days reflecting.  It’s inevitable, given that this case affects everyone who works in track and field.  In particular, I’ve been thinking about the day that my athlete, Natalia Rodríguez, lost out on the gold medal in the 1500 meters at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin (she blocked the path of the Ethiopian Burka, who fell).  The crowd booed, and at the time I didn’t understand their reaction at all.  Someone told me then (which I now believe to be true): “Outside of Spain they think that Spain supports doping.”  That same day I spoke with Alonso Valero (the agent of both Rodriguez and Marta Domínguez, who is also implicated in Operation Greyhound), who told me something different.  He said, “Sometimes the crowd’s reaction just doesn’t make sense.”

I also can’t help but remember how that same person (Valero) paced nervously when they gave Marta a surprise drug test right before the semifinal and how he said that that wasn’t legal.  Or how the day after the 1500, Manuel Pascua (the coach, also implicated) scoffed at how Natalia had run and at my impressions of the final and the crowd’s reaction.  I also remember when Natalia tried to run in Zurich but wasn’t admitted and my insistence that she still try to go because I just couldn’t believe what the federation and her own agent were saying: that the meet organizers didn’t want her to run because she might get booed. 

Today I feel certain that the crowd’s reaction didn’t just come out of nowhere and really didn’t have anything to do with what Natalia did in that race.  I don’t believe all the boos were actually against my athlete, but rather I think the crowd was protesting what is just now coming to light with this investigation (an investigation that I’m happy about).  I don’t want to act like a victim here (like the president of our federation), as I do think Natalia ran that race in an extremely risky way.  But I’m confident that what occurred that day (with respect to the crowd’s intensively negative reaction) wasn’t just about what happened on the track in that 1500.

Doping can do tremendous harm to our sport, and to other sports as well.  Hopefully I’m wrong about why I think the crowd was really booing at the World Championships in Berlin.  But if I’m not, then reactions similar to what Natalia experienced in Berlin might just be what Spain will face in the future.  It’s up to us now to see this investigation through, and to work to win back our credibility.

More Spanish Doping Translations:
*December 20:
Marta Domínguez to Testify in Court This Wednesday
*Martín Fiz: “You've got to respect Marta for all that she has done
*Jesus España: "Those Who Dope Aren't Teammates of Mine"

* 2009 European XC Champ Alemayehu Bezabeh May Have Been Duped By His Coach Into Blood Doping And Could Possibly Get Off Because He Didn't Reinject Blood
A Bag Of Blood From Operation Puerto In 2006 Was Linked To Marta Dominguez And Helped Kick Off This Probe 
*Marta Domínguez: "I've Never Dealt Drugs."
*Last Year's European XC Champ Alemayehu Bezabeh Admitted He Was Just About To Transfuse A Bag Of Blood
Bezabah apparently thought there was nothing wrong with it and for some reason we believe he's telling the truth. "He told me that he was just about to tap the bag, and when I told him that this was doping and that he couldn't be on the team, he was shocked."
*Jesus España: "It was a well-known secret"
"It's very easy to walk into a doctor's office with 7,000 bucks in your pocket (5,000 euros) and tell the doctor that 'the time has come to reach my full potential. Do anything you have to do, here are my veins. Just make me into a champion.' I could have done that."


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