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‘Test me every day’ says Salazar runner Hassan after golden double

Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan celebrates after completing her 10,000m-1,500m World Championship double © AFP / Jewel SAMAD

Doha, Qatar, Oct 5 – Sifan Hassan said she is willing to undergo daily drug testing to prove she is a clean athlete after completing a stunning World Championship double.

Just days after her coach Alberto Salazar was handed a four-year ban for doping offences, the Ethiopian-born Dutch runner surged to her second gold medal of the championships in the 1,500 metres on Saturday.

Hassan’s blistering winning time of 3min 51.95sec was the sixth fastest in history, and sliced around seven seconds off the 16-year-old championship record.

It came at the end of a tumultuous week for the 26-year-old Hassan, whose joy at a brilliant 10,000m victory last Saturday lasted only a few days before Salazar, her coach at the controversial Nike Oregon Project, was banned.

Salazar’s downfall has cast a shadow over the entire Oregon Project training group, whose athletes have won three gold medals in Doha.

Hassan, however, hit back at the suggestion her performances should now be viewed with suspicion.

“If they want to test me they can test me every single day. Every single day,” Hassan declared to reporters at the end of an impassioned press conference.

“I believe in clean sport, I’m always clean, I will always be clean. I believe in the Oregon Project. I’ve seen Alberto. He’s worked really hard and that is what I know.”

Hassan joined the Oregon Project at the end of 2016.

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US sprinting great Michael Johnson warned Hassan that she would have to live with suspicion.

“I understand her anger but that is a question she is going to have to get prepared for,” Johnson said on the BBC.

“She made the decision to go to the Oregon Project and at the time that she went Salazar was under investigation. I think a lot of people thought that investigation was going nowhere … maybe she thought, ‘Well it’s OK to go there, this is going nowhere’. But it did go somewhere.

“Any athlete in that organisation has to realise that it is going to be attached to them. They are going to have to answer those questions.”

– ‘A constant athlete’ –

Hassan pointed out she had been delivering consistent times throughout her career, which includes a World Indoor Championship gold medal in 2016.

“I’ve been a top athlete since 2014,” Hassan said. “I’ve won gold medals indoors, Diamond Leagues, I’m always a constant athlete.”

Hassan, whose 2019 season has included a world record for the mile, set in Monaco in July and four Diamond League victories, said she had been regularly tested throughout the year.

“Do people think if I cheat that I don’t get tested? For five or six months when I’m running personal bests, that I don’t get tested? For five years I’ve been a constant athlete.”

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Under international doping rules, Hassan was required to sever all contact with Salazar this week after the 61-year-old was banned.

She said Saturday she had formulated her own strategy for a masterful performance at the Khalifa Stadium, where she took the lead on the first lap and set the pace before kicking hard for home with about 250m to go.

Kenya’s 2017 world champion Faith Kipyegon took silver while Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay bronze.

“I was so just angry and I could not talk to anyone. I just ran all out. That hard work can’t be beaten by anything,” Hassan said.

“It’s what makes me angry, I have been clean all my life. I work hard. I’m not an emotional person but it makes me so mad.”

Salazar was suspended for a catalogue of doping rule violations uncovered in a years-long investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Hassan had emphasised in an earlier statement that Salazar’s ban related to activities which took place before she joined the team three years ago.

However US sprinting great Michael Johnson warned Hassan that she would have to live with suspicion as long as she remained associated with Salazar.

“I understand her anger but that is a question she is going to have to get prepared for,” Johnson said on the BBC.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“She made the decision to go to the Oregon Project and at the time that she went Salazar was under investigation. I think a lot of people thought that investigation was going nowhere … maybe she thought, ‘Well it’s OK to go there, this is going nowhere’. But it did go somewhere.

“Any athlete in that organisation has to realise that it is going to be attached to them. They are going to have to answer those questions.”

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