Athletics and cycling back on the defensive

MADRID, (Reuters) – The spectre of doping was again looming over athletics and cycling yesterday with a top running coach, a world champion steeplechaser from Spain and a Tour de France-winning cyclist on the defensive.

American running guru Alberto Salazar, whose British charge Mo Farah is a double Olympic champion, is being investigated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), a source told Reuters.

News of the probe coincided with the second of two appeal hearings at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland into a doping case involving Marta Dominguez, the 2009 world steeplechase champion.

Cycling, which has been rocked by a series of high-profile doping cases over the past decade, also made the headlines when former Tour de France champion Chris Froome, the poster boy for British cycling, said he missed a drugs test this year.

There was no suggestion Froome, one of the favourites for this year’s Tour, which starts in Utrecht, Netherlands on July 4, had committed any offence.

The Salazar investigation began before the BBC television programme Panorama, with American website ProPublica, made a series of allegations, the source told Reuters.

USADA declined to comment on whether a probe has been launched.

The accusations, which Cuba-born Salazar has strongly denied, included that he had given Olympic 10,000 metres silver medallist Galen Rupp the banned steroid testosterone.

Rupp is the training partner of Farah who has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Dominguez, a senator for the ruling People’s Party (PP) and a former vice president of Spain’s athletics federation (RFEA), has gone to CAS to challenge what local media have reported is a four-year ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The IAAF and WADA do not comment on doping cases until they are resolved.

One of Spain’s best-known athletes, Dominguez was caught up in a police sting, known as ‘Operation Greyhound’, in 2010.

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