On Dr. Jeffrey Brown: “I think he deserves a lifetime ban from the sport of track and field.”
On how he maintains a healthy environment for his women: “Our system is not created by men for men. I try to be polite and stay out of the way.”
By Robert Johnson
November 22, 2019
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — While today’s pre-meet press conference was rightly focused on tomorrow’s 2019 NCAA Cross Country Championships, it was not surprising that the biggest off-the-track stories in the world of distance running over the last two months — the four-year bans for Alberto Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown and Mary Cain‘s subsequent abuse allegations against Salazar — came up as well.
One of the interesting tidbits to emerge from the whole Salazar saga was that, according to the arbitration decision against Salazar, Brown was introduced to Salazar by Adam and Kara Goucher, both of whom ran for Colorado coach Mark Wetmore. Wetmore, now in his 28th year at CU, is a highly respected coach known for not taking shortcuts — one need only look at his recruiting philosophy, where, unlike many top programs, he tries to build championship teams with only American athletes. So after the press event was officially over, I decided I needed to ask Wetmore about his relationship with Dr. Brown.
Wetmore revealed that he’s never actually met Dr. Brown, has no recollection of ever sending Adam Goucher to Dr. Brown (which is what Adam wrote to Dr. Brown in an email), and that both of the athletes that he remembers sending to Brown did not come away with good impressions of him as neither found him to be trustworthy.
Wetmore said that after reading the entire 268-page USADA report, he’s convinced Dr. Brown and Salazar deserve a ban, and he called for it to be a lifetime ban. “If you read it, there is very little question that he was working in conjunction with Salazar to circumvent the rules. I don’t think there is any question of that and so I think he deserves a lifetime ban from the sport of track and field,” said Wetmore.
(Wetmore’s full comments on Dr. Brown appear at the bottom of this article).
In response to Mary Cain’s fat-shaming allegations, during the main press conference, David Monti of Race Results Weekly asked Arkansas coach Lance Harter “as a man who has coached women for three decades” to “tell us about what you’ve done to create a healthy culture for your team and for your program that allows young women to develop and also to feel safe.”
Harter responded as follows:
“I think the basic philosophy of our program is that the window of opportunity that you have to be an elite runner is very small when you look at the timeline of your entire life. Yes, you want to seize that opportunity and capitalize on it as best as possible but not at the risk of the remainder of your life. We’ve talked to some of our kids about the idea that ‘You have to make sure you make good decisions and good choices so that when your grandchildren are sitting on your knee that you are still healthy enough to get down and pick them up.’ I think that we’ve been very fortunate that our alumni are all healthy and happy and leading great lives and contributing to society. We got to sometimes keep our running in perspective.”
We extended that same question to Wetmore, who responded by saying:
“One of the things that Mary Cain said in her statement was that she felt like she was the victim of a system created by men for men. I have an excellent assistant head coach, Heather Burroughs. Our certified athletic trainer is a woman. Our strength and conditioning coach is a woman. We have an excellent dietician/nutritionist. Our system is not created by men for men. I try to be polite and stay out of the way.”
Mark Wetmore’s Detailed Comments on Dr. Jeffrey Brown
Wetmore on how he first became aware of Dr. Brown:
I have known who Dr. Brown was since the early 1990s. I had a friend — a very respected MD/physiologist who worked very closely with USATF — Dr. David Martin. He did a lot of physiological testing of some of my female athletes, funded by USATF.
At some point, I had an athlete who might be in need of an endocrinologist, so I asked Dr. David Martin if he had heard of one and he had. And he said, “I don’t know the guy very well but he’s worked with some elite athletes — his name is Dr. Jeffery Brown and he’s in Houston, Texas.”
I remember sending two athletes to Brown although Adam Goucher says I also sent him to Brown as well. Again, I have no recollection of sending Adam there. The two athletes that went to Brown more than a decade apart came back with oddly similar stories — that they didn’t trust him. And neither of them followed his prescription for improving. Neither of them became national-caliber or Olympic-level runners. Oddly, each of them had a medical doctor in their family and in both cases the family medical doctor said, “We don’t want to do that.”
So that’s my history with Brown. I really don’t think I introduced Alberto Salazar to Brown, but maybe Adam knew about Brown when he went to Salazar’s group. Maybe Kara knew about Brown when she went to Salazar’s group…
I read somewhere that [Adam] said that I informed him of or recommended that he use Dr. Brown. I absolutely don’t remember doing that. I suppose it’s possible…I mean, Adam is younger than me and he probably has a better memory than me, so if he was he was the first athlete I sent down to Brown, that’s possible.
Wetmore’s thoughts on Dr. Brown’s ban:
Have you read the USADA report — the 268-page report? I think if you read it, there is very little question that he was working in conjunction with Salazar to circumvent the rules. I don’t think there is any question of that and so I think he deserves a lifetime ban from the sport of track and field. But I don’t think it stops him from practicing his business — he goes back to work with normal civilians the next day.