Mo’s super-coach Salazar’s road to disgrace
Los Angeles, October 3
Alberto Salazar pushed himself to the brink and beyond as an athlete, and preached the same philosophy as a coach to distance running stars. But the 61-year-old Cuban-born American’s will to win finally went too far, according to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which has banned him for four years for multiple doping violations. Salazar has been a major figure in American athletics for four decades. He won the 1980, 1981 and 1982 New York Marathons and the 1982 Boston Marathon, and later coached such stars as Britain’s Mo Farah, the 2012 and 2016 Olympics champion at 5,000 and 10,000 metres.
Salazar arrived in the United States as a toddler. His father was a friend of Fidel Castro who fought alongside him in the revolution but later opposed the Communist government. The family moved to suburban Boston, where Salazar won a state cross country crown in 1975. He helped the University of Oregon capture the US collegiate cross country title in 1977, taking national college individual honours the following year.
In 1980, Salazar qualified for the US Olympics team at 10,000m, but the Americans boycotted the Moscow Games and Salazar tackled a new challenge: the marathon. He quickly conquered the 26.2-mile (42.195km) event. At 22, Salazar won his marathon debut in New York, then set a career-best of 2hrs 8mins 13secs to defend his title.
In 1982, he took New York and claimed his only Boston Marathon title in what was dubbed the “Duel in the Sun” with Dick Beardsley. After besting Beardsley in a sprint finish, a dehydrated Salazar collapsed. Salazar finished 15th in the marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, then trained and competed until retiring in the mid-1990s, when he began moving into coaching, joining with Nike to form the Oregon Project in 2001 to train distance runners.