NEIL FEATHERBY – My take on Salazar and drugs in sport









Mo Farah, right, and Galen Rupp with disgraced coach Alberto Salazar Picture: PA

I have had to give this one a lot of thought, but after a matter of a fact conversation with Mark Armstrong about the ban given to Alberto Salazar this week, he suggested it would make for a good feature.

Neil Featherby out running with his beloved Oslo - who sadly passed away this week Picture: Mark Hewlett

I do not condone the taking of drugs one bit. I detest the thought of anyone taking substances, be it sport or otherwise. The only way to get anywhere near to stopping it is to hand out life bans for anyone found guilty.

However, Mark also asked me if I have witnessed drug taking in sport and if I had, would I also mention it.

The answer was sadly, yes. While I genuinely believe it is only a minority who do, I am not naive enough to think every top athlete is whiter than white, however much we want them to be. That has been proved too many times with Russia once again facing strong accusations It is awful and just knocks all genuine lovers of sport backwards each time something like this happens.

I remember returning from a run on the day Ben Johnson was exposed back in 1988, and there was Paul Evans on the phone asking me if I had heard the news. I hadn't, but when he told me what had happened, at the time I was gutted. Why? Because even though there had always been rumours, we just don't want them to be true.

Finding out that Salazar, who was not only an awesome athlete (on the track, cross country and as a marathon runner), as well as being a very knowledgeable coach, has also been cheating to such extent, absolutely saddens me. Worse still by the manipulation of some of his athletes. You just don't want to hear it never mind believe it.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, in his prime, he was seen to almost run himself into the ground such was his determination to win. He won the New York marathon three times, although one of my favourite races of all time was the awesome finish he had with fellow American athlete Dick Beardsley, when winning in the Boston Marathon of 1982, a race which has since been given the title of 'Duel in The Sun'.

Nevertheless, was he himself on drugs when competing at such a high standard? Was he even drug tested during that time or after the races? I certainly don't know the answer, but as he wasn't banned you have to assume that he wasn't or unless of course they now back-track the results.

PUBLISHED: 13:09 03 October 2019 - Mark Armstrong EDP