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UKA launches review into handling of Nike Oregon Project issues

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By Reuters
UKA launches review into handling of Nike Oregon Project issues
FILE PHOTO: Alberto Salazar, coach to Mo Farah of Great Britain and Galen Rupp of the U.S.A. sits inside the Bird's Nest Stadium at the Wold Athletics Championships in Beijing, China, August 21, 2015. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo   -   Copyright  Phil Noble(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) – UK Athletics (UKA) has commissioned an independent review into the processes under which issues concerning the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) were investigated in 2015 and 2017 after distance-running coach Alberto Salazar was banned for four years, it said on Thursday.

American Salazar was banned in September by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct” as head coach of the NOP.

The NOP was set up mainly to develop U.S. endurance runners but athletes from other countries, including Britain’s Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres champion Mo Farah, also trained there.

UKA … commissioned the independent review to review the processes under which the issues concerning the NOP were investigated in 2015 and 2017 and the subsequent related decisions made by the UKA board at those respective times,” the national governing body said in a statement

“The independent review will also set out any recommendations to assist UKA ensure its future governance and assurance framework is robust.”

The review aims to address questions such as whether the UKA sought advice from UK Sport, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and USADA in relation to the issues that came up and whether informed decisions were made based on evidence available at the time.

UKA said in October that its 2015 investigation, which cleared Farah to work with Salazar, was “restricted to the interaction of the Nike Oregon Project with Mo Farah and not an anti-doping investigation”.

UKA chairman Chris Clark said his organisation would publish its findings early next year.

“The UKA Board recognises the seriousness of the USADA decision released at the start of October,” Clark said. “It has unanimously agreed that an independent review should now be carried out.

“We need to ensure we have a clear way forward that gives us confidence in the integrity of our coaching efforts,” he added.

“If there are lessons to be learnt, we plan to implement any recommendations into a future focussed, transparent and accountable way of working.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said this month that it had registered an appeal from Salazar, who has denied any wrongdoing, with hearings unlikely to take place before March 2020.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)