June 14, 2015
PORTLAND, Ore — Tonight Nike Oregon Project team member Shannon Rowbury ran an impressive double and then she faced the media and addressed the doping allegations surrounding her coach Alberto Salazar for the first time.
On the track, Shannon Rowbury ran a ridiculous double. First she raced the 800 where she was second to Canada’s Fiona Benson. The 23-year old Benson, who came into the year with a 2:09 pb, won the 800 in a new pb of 1:59.94 (previous pb of 2:01.02). Rowbury’s runner-up time of 2:00.53 was just .06 off of her pb from 2010. Then, twelve minutes later, she was on the start line for the women’s 1500 where she was third in 4:07.52 – just .19 behind the winning time by the OTC’s Lauren Johnson (4:07.33) as early leader Sheila Reid faded to a 4th place showing in 4:09.14.
After the race, however, the media didn’t want to talk about Rowbury’s running, they wanted to talk about the doping allegations surrounding her coach Albert Salazar (Full interview embedded below). When asked to address the allegations going on against the Oregon project, Rowbury, as did fellow teammate Cam Levins later in the night, made a point of pointing out that she wasn’t on the team with Adam or Kara Goucher or Steve Magness.
“I wasn’t a member on the team when the Gouchers or Steve Magness were here so I can’t comment on what they said but I can speak from my own experience and say that Alberto has been a really great coach to me and I’ve never seen anything that would make me question him or my teammates,” said Rowbury. “I have a clean record. I have never cheated. I never would. I would rather quit the sport than do that. I hope that over time people can recognize my character.”
Rowbury was then asked if she’s talked to Salazar about the allegations. Rowbury said that she’s only “seldomly” had contact with Salazar, who was notably absent from the meet. Rowbury added that what has “probably been the most disappointing part” about the story is the fact that “our coach has been taken away from us.”
She later added, “It’s hard. It is disappointing but as long as the people who actually know me know the truth and know that I would never participate in something like that, that’s what matters to me.”
Since Rowbury had talked about people knowing her, LetsRun.com’s Robert Johnson then pointed out to Rowbury that one of the people with harsh words about the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) was someone who knew Rowbury quite well – her former coach John Cook, “Why was that?”
Rowbury, replied, “My relationship with him ended before I ever joined the (NOP) team and he has reached out to me over 20 times since joining the team so why he said the things he did I can’t speculate as to his behaviour, but I was very disappointed that he said what he did.”
Johnson then asked Rowbury about allegations that Salazar, if even following the letter of the law, might be violating the ethics of the sport. In that light, Johnson asked Rowbury if she was on any prescriptions drugs or anything like that? Rowbury replied, “I’m not on any TUE’s. I don’t take an inhaler. Since joining Alberto’s group, I have a very limited supplement routine.”
Later when talking to a stringer representing the BBC, Rowbury said, “I’ve done everything in my power to compete morally and conduct myself well and it’s disappointing for me to still have people throwing slanderous allegations my way. I could drive myself crazy trying to go on messageboards and correct every falsehood that people have said and instead I just try to carry myself in a professional way. I have my eyes on my goals which are to make the US team, to make the World podium and and most importantly of all the Olympic podium.”
The Oregonian’s Ken Goe heard that and then said to Rowbury, “There hasn’t been anything said about you, has there?”
Rowbury replied, “I believe the article with coach Cook. He never said anything directly. I think there has been suggestions and innuendos. Being a part of the Oregon Project, with all of the stuff that has been going on now, I think people jump to whatever conclusions they might. I hope there hasn’t been anything because that would be a lie – I have a clean record. I truthfully just try to stay off the Internet and social media.”
Johnson then followed up asking Rowbury, “You used the word slanderous, do you think Kara Goucher and Steve Magness are lying?”
Rowbury: “Oh I don’t know. I can’t speak to their comments. I was never teammates with them. They were never coaches of mine. All I know is that any accusations or suggestions about me being involved with drugs are lies and I feel are slanderous against my character because I’ve never done anything wrong, nor have I been accused of anything wrong. I can’t comment about anyone but myself but I know I’ve never done anything wrong.”