AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Double world champion Sifan Hassan plans to continue to train in Portland despite the closure of the controversial Nike Oregon Project and the four-year doping ban handed to her former coach Alberto Salazar.
The Ethiopian-born Dutch athlete said it would be hard to change, with the Olympic Games less than a year away, but she would now seek a new coach.
She did, however, praise Salazar’s skills.
“He is the best coach there is, he does the best for his athletes,” she told Dutch broadcaster NOS after finishing second in Sunday’s Valencia half marathon in Spain.
“There is no better coach, which makes the choice now for a new one so much more difficult.
“I want to stay in America because it is difficult to move in an Olympic year. Everything has to be perfect.”
Her agent Jos Hermens added: “We have an eye on two, three, four American coaches, but it must be someone with whom she must click.”
Hermens had advised Hassan to move to Portland after the Rio Olympics and train with Salazar. His four-year ban for doping violations was announced at the world athletics championships in Doha where Hassan completed an unprecedented double in the 1 1,500 and 10,000m.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Salazar was punished for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct” as head coach of the Nike Oregon Project, a camp designed primarily to develop U.S. endurance athletes. Hassan said after the ban that her career had been thrown into uncertainty but insisted she was clean.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; editing by Tony Lawrence)