American track coach Alberto Salazar is currently serving a four-year ban for doping. It stems from violations that included "trafficking in testosterone, tampering with the doping control process and administering improper infusions of L-carnitine, a naturally occurring substance that converts fat into energy," the anti-doping agency said in a statement to the New York Times. Freelance journalist Matt Hart broke the story of Salazar being investigated for cheating, and he takes a closer look at the story in his new book Win at All Costs: Inside Nike Running and its Culture of Deception, which is out now. PopCulture.com got a chance to speak to Hart about his new book and he revealed why this story "needed to be told."
"As an athlete and journalist who covered this beat, I've been deeply interested in it basically since the Lance Armstrong era," Hart said exclusively to PopCulture. "I just felt so defrauded by the whole thing. I had been such a fan." In the book, Hart talks about how he was able to obtain a stolen document from a confidential source on the investigation of Salazar and Nike, which started the journey for him to find the truth. He contacted the New York Times and other publications to see if they would be interested in him writing a story on it.
"I knew I had something unique that wasn't in the public domain," Hart added. "Reading through the document, I was shocked and started to reach out to all the players involved to see who would elaborate and talk to me further," Hart said who wrote a story on in for the New York Times in 2017. Hart then stared a relationship with Adam and Kara Goucher, two runners who competed in the Olympics and worked with Salazar.
Win at All Costs: Inside Nike Running and its Culture of Deception details Salazar's time at Nike as he was the head coach of the Nike Oregon Project in Portland, Oregon. He allegedly pressured athletes to take drugs, including Kara Goucher, who claimed Salazar pressured her to take thyroid medication to lose weight during her pregnancy in 2010.
"Kara's interviews are often sad," Hart said. "She's been through so much with this program and these people she considered family. Alberto was like a father to her… There were times where she couldn't hold it together. Initially, when she went to USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) she said that she felt like she was betraying them, and there's a deep love there at one point."
Salazar would do what he could to make sure his athletes become the best in the world. However, due to his alleged way of doing things, it has led to him being banned possibly for life. Hart never got a chance to talk to Salazar about but doesn't think he'll be back coaching ever again.
"To be quite blunt, I think his career as a coach is over," Hart said. "Even if he gets off based on the allegations from Mary Cain of physical and emotional abuse, I don't think he'll be welcomed back. I don't think any young athlete is going to be eager to sign up to have him coach them. It will be really interesting to see what Nike does. I have had no indication that he's off his Nike payroll. They vowed to help him defend himself. They're still backing him as they sometimes do with their legendary athletes… But I think his coaching career is over."