Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar had been suspected of plying his runners with shady and illegal performance enhancing substances for years before he was finally hit with a four-year ban by USADA for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct.” The agency’s report has also revealed a shocking aspect of Salazar’s scheme: he kept Nike’s top brass updated on his doping experiments.
USADA got its hands on several emails sent to Nike CEO Mark Parker from Salazar and one of his consultants, Dr. Jeffrey Brown. In one 2009 email, Brown detailed the results of an experiment with topical hormonal creams. Parker even responded to the email with some questions about how to make sure such creams wouldn’t trigger a positive PED test. From the Wall Street Journal:
“We tested levels in the commonly used screening at least for track and field of urinary T/E (testosterone/epitestosterone) ratios after 1 pump (1.25 grams) and 2 pumps (2.5 grams) of Androgel,” Dr. Brown wrote, according to the report on his sanction, referencing the brand of testosterone cream used. “We found that even though there was a slight rise in T/E ratios, it was below the level of 4 which would trigger great concern.”
Mr. Parker responded, “Jeff, thanks for the update on the tests. It will be interesting to determine the minimal amount of topical male hormone required to create a positive test. Are there other topical hormones that would create more dramatic results…or other substances that would accelerate the rate of absorption into the body?”
Never underestimate a rich person’s ability to commit evidence of crimes and malfeasance to email.
Update (3:33 p.m.): Nike released a statement to the Journal, claiming that the doping tests were being done because Nike was afraid that their runners could be sabotaged by people rubbing hormonal cream on them: