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UK Athletics head coach stands down amid Salazar ban fallout

UK Athletics performance director Neil Black © AFP/File / Charly TRIBALLEAU

LONDON, United Kingdom, Oct 8 – UK Athletics performance director Neil Black is to stand down, the governing body said Tuesday, after he said he would review his position following the doping ban handed down to Olympic champion Mo Farah’s former coach Alberto Salazar.

Salazar’s four-year suspension last week followed an investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) into the activities of his Nike-backed Oregon Project training group in Portland.

Black was in charge when UK Athletics appointed Salazar as a consultant to its endurance programme in 2013. He had previously described Salazar as a “genius”.

In 2015, when USADA began investigating potential doping violations, Salazar was coaching Farah, whom he helped become a four-time Olympic champion distance runner. UK Athletics reviewed Salazar’s link with Farah at the time and concluded there was “no reason to be concerned”.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing from Black, who will still oversee Farah’s involvement in the Chicago Marathon as planned this weekend but has said he would review his position after Salazar’s ban.

A statement from UK Athletics read: “UK Athletics have announced that Neil Black will leave his role as performance director at the end of October.

“Neil will commence a detailed handover with performance staff until his departure and will fulfil his role supporting Mo Farah at this weekend’s Chicago marathon.”

Black spoke about the Salazar matter on Monday after returning from the World Championships in Doha, where Great Britain won just five medals, their worst performance since 2005.

He said: “I’ll play back the decisions I made and once I’ve had a chance to really look through that I’ll have a view.”

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IAAF chief Sebastian Coe said Sunday that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) would conduct a review of the Salazar doping case following calls to investigate athletes linked to the coach.

Salazar, a former top marathon runner, denied ever doping his athletes and has vowed to appeal.

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