Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Apparent Leaked Report Details Secret Doping Scheme Of Nike Oregon Project

Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty

Dathan Ritzenhein has been one of the United States’ best distance runners for over a decade. He participated in the Athens, Beijing, and London Olympics, and once held the American 5k record. Ritzenhein was sponsored by Nike for his entire career until March, and lived in Oregon to train under Alberto Salazar with the Nike Oregon Project from 2009 to 2014.

Last week, Ritzenhein spoke to the New York Times on his time in Oregon, and detailed the strict regimen of supplements and infusions Salazar prescribed for him. Ritzenhein said that Salazar seemed to determined to push for faster times at the expense of his endocrine health and that the drug program he was on was a risk to his health. The Times beefed out their reporting by making repeated references to a confidential report about Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project compiled by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The Times Of London also reported on the USADA report, although neither outlet published it. Earlier today, FloTrack obtained what appears to be the full USADA report on Salazar. Its contents match up with what the New York Times and Times Of London reported about the case, although USADA refused to verify it.


Salazar has not been accused of providing illegal drugs to his runners, although reports have indicated that he has jeopardized their health with an aggressive program of supplements and drugs, such as calcitonin, ferrous sulfate, Advair, testosterone, as well as a series of thyroid medications. Many of the drugs have no known benefit, and Ritznhein even complained that his thyroid medications were making him sick. According to the report, NOP doctor Jeffrey Stuart Brown (who was also Salazar’s personal physician) had a habit of diagnosing athletes with hypothyroidism and prescribing them thyroid meds they did not need in order to boost performance. The document also shows that Salazar urged his athletes to shroud their activities in secrecy.

Another one of the substances, L-Carnitine, is also not illegal to take, although the document suggests that Brown’s infusion methods were. Ritzenhein apparently contacted Salazar with worries about how his thyroid drugs were interacting with his L-Carnitine infusions, and Salazar assured him that they did not counteract each other. However, an email four days later shows Salazar assuring Galen Rupp of the exact opposite. The USADA report called the contradiction and dispensation of contradictory medical advice by an amateur as “unconscionable.”


The document also alleges that Salazar went out of his way to prescribe a nasal spray called calcitonin on his personal theory that it would strengthen nasal bone strength and prevent stress fractures. In actuality, it was shown later to increase cancer risk and the Nike Oregon Project team told its athletes to stop using the spray in November 2012. Ritzenhein responded with incredulity, asking, “Is this some kind of joke? I have been taking this for the last four years!” Despite the warnings, records show that Brown prescribed the spray to Galen Rupp in December 2012. Additionally, Mo Farah, perhaps the world’s greatest distance runner, was told to stop taking it after being diagnosed with hypercalciuria, but the alleged secrecy and overmedication of Nike Oregon Project athletes under Salazar kept him on calcitonin well after he was told to stop.


Another intriguing anecdote in the report concerns the possibility that Salazar might have helped Rupp ingest undetectable amounts of compound testosterone. Several athletes told USADA that Salazar would personally massage Rupp before big races instead of any of the other massage therapists on staff.


The report, which can be read in full below, contains troves of details on Salazar’s reign and approach to prescribing medicine.


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