by Jon Gugala
February 23, 2014 (published on LRC 3:53 am central 2/24)
Editor’s note: LetsRun.com was initially offered this piece by Jon Gugala but turned it down because we felt it was gratuitous and would put the focus on Alberto Salazar and not the injustice of the DQ in the 3000m and in our belief, USATF not following its own rules. After RunBlogRun which had been carrying many of Gugala’s pieced turned down the piece and then the Daily Relay published the piece but then took it off its website we decided to publish it, People already saw it when it was up on The Daily Relay and it is a great but small example of how people tread very lightly when it comes to Nike because Nike invests a disproportionate amount of the dollars in pro track and field in the US. This piece really is just an aside to our more detailed piece on the DQ here that has much more on the context of these quotes. As of 10:50 am on 2/24 we are adding the context to this piece and putting Grunewald’s quotes to Salazar in the title so in case someone just reads this piece on their own via social media they will have the fuller context. We encourage you to read our longer article here.
Justin Grunewald, husband of disqualified 3000m champion Gabe Grunewald, says he and coach Alberto Salazar, who filed the protest to get Gabe disqualified in the 3k, had a confrontation in an elevator that spilled over into the lobby of the host hotel Marriott this morning in Albuquerque.
10:50 am central Editor’s note: Justin Grunewald told LRC that after learning of his wife’s DQ in the 3000m, he lost his composure Saturday night and lashed out at Alberto Salazar at the meet and screamed at Salazar, “She’s had cancer twice. This is bullshit. How do you sleep at night? You’ve got a defibrillator in your chest.” (Grunewald is a two-time cancer survivor and Salazar is a heart attack survivor who survived 14 minutes without a pulse). This elevator incident took place the next morning.
The meeting in the elevator wasn’t planned, but Grunewald says he hopped on the elevator and the Nike Oregon Project coach just so happened to be there.
Grunewald says he immediately recognized Salazar. “I looked at him, and then he looked up, and I kept looking at him, and then he said, ‘Who the hell are you?’” Grunewald says.
The elevator stopped, and Grunewald says he said to Salazar, “If you push me hard enough, I’m going to break.”
Salazar reportedly dismissed the comment, and then Grunewald says Salazar called him a “nobody.”
“I said, ‘I’m Justin Grunewald. I’m going to be a doctor, and I have a good life,’” Grunewald says.
Grunewald then says Salazar said, “Oh, I know who the f— you are. Get the f— out of my face.” Update: Alberto Salazar’s son Alex has written us, disputing Alberto said, “I know who the f— you are. Get the f— out of my face”. Full email two pargraphs below.
Drew Wartenburg, director of track and field and cross country at UC Davis and the coach of several post-collegiate athletes, was within earshot in the lobby. Though Wartenburg says he cannot confirm what Salazar said, he does confirm he saw Salazar and Grunewald talking.
Grunewald then left for a coffee shop to study, and he says Salazar headed to the other side of the lobby, toward the area of the meet shuttle.
Salazar has not returned a request for comment on the incident.
Update: 2/24 12:05 pm central Alberto Salazar’s son Alex has written us. His email is below.
“I’m not going to comment on the rest of the story as there will be a time for that.
I do want to clear up this “altercation with Justin Grunewald. Below is your story that you released this morning. You link to the story and quotes from Gugala so you know the whole story yet this is all you choose to write? Why? Because it makes Alberto come across as this crazy guy which only helps your story?
Put yourself in Albertos shoes. This guy screams something in his face on Saturday night about his defibrillator. Then confronts him in an elevator 12 hours later in a very threatening manner.
Justin: “You can only push me so far before I break”. Alberto: “Do I know you?” Justin: “You’re gonna know who I am” Alberto: “I don’t know who you are” Justin “I’m going to be a doctor, I’m Justin Grunewald”
Alberto never said “I know who the f***you are, get the F*** out of my face”. On Sunday at the track we had to have him identified so we knew to steer clear of him. So Alberto still didn’t know who he was on Sunday afternoon, so of course he wouldn’t say “I know who the f*** you are”. Let’s face it, we have a very unfortunate incident that will be cleared up in the next 48 hours and you have a team of people Grunewald and Dennis Barker doing everything they can to smear Alberto and Nike which helps there story.
I just ask you report the truth, not 2nd and 3rd hand stories that are tweeted and emailed to you by biased parties.
After losing his cool last night with Alberto Salazar, Justin Grunewald in a stroke of pure coincidence ended up in the same elevator as Alberto Salazar on Sunday morning, but this time it was Salazar who lost his cool. Salazar didn’t recognize Justin Grunewald from the night before but did realize that Grunewald was staring at him so Salazar asked him who he was. Grunewald deadpanned, “I’m Justin Grunewald. I’m going to be a doctor, and I have a good life.”
Salazar then responded according to Grunewald, “Oh, I know who the f— you are. Get the f— out of my face.”
(The last 2 paragraphs in italics was Alex pasting from the fuller LRC story on this)