DOHA (Reuters) - American Donavan Brazier said after winning the world 800 meters title on Tuesday that it would be ignorant to draw any connection between his win and the scandal which has embroiled leading coach Alberto Salazar.
Salazar, head coach at the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) where Brazier trains, was banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Monday for four years for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct”.
Salazar has denied wrongdoing, vowed to appeal and sportswear giant Nike has said it will stand by the 61-year-old. There has been no suggestion of wrongdoing by any of the NOP-trained athletes at the world championships.
Brazier said that he was coached by Pete Julian, not Salazar, and said it would be “really ignorant” to question the validity of his title.
“The investigation started when I was at high school and to even think that is pretty ignorant,” he told reporters after winning a first-ever world title for the U.S. in the event.
He said his first contact with the NOP was in 2018.
“I checked out the group in early summer of 2018 and from the start I was always in touch Pete,” he said. “I was never asked to be coached by Alberto the entire time I was at the project.
“I didn’t know there was an investigation going on. When the investigation started, I didn’t know who Alberto was and even now I don’t now 100 percent what it’s about.”
Brazier added: “The only contact I’ve had with Alberto has been pleasant. I like Alberto, he’s a cool guy.
“I think the ban on Alberto is very disappointing. At the end of the day he’s the founder of the Oregon Project.”
He said he would stay with the NOP “if Pete takes control.”
Additional reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber, writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar