By Press Association
Nike are to close their Oregon Project less than two weeks after head coach Alberto Salazar was banned for four years for doping violations.
Salazar’s ban – which he said he will appeal – followed a four-year investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency and a two-year court battle.
The company said “uninformed innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions has become an unfair burden” on athletes and it has taken the decision to wind down the programme.
“Nike has always tried to put the athlete and their needs at the front of all of our decisions,” said a statement.
“While the panel found there was no orchestrated doping, no finding that performance enhancing drugs have ever been used on Oregon Project athletes and went out of its way to note Alberto’s desire to follow all rules, ultimately Alberto can no longer coach while the appeal is pending.
“This situation including uninformed innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions has become an unfair burden for current OP athletes. That is exactly counter to the purpose of the team.
“We have therefore made the decision to wind down the Oregon Project to allow the athletes to focus on their training and competition needs.
“We will help all of our athletes in this transition as they choose the coaching set up that is right for them. We will continue to support Alberto in his appeal.”
The NOP was established in 2001 and was the home of, among others, Britain’s four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah between 2011 and 2017.
Current athlete Suguru Osako wrote on Twitter: “I am sad that the dear team that made me stronger will be gone.
“But I will keep exploring myself and I will continue being myself. As Nike has expressed their commitment to continuing support as they have, my activities will not be disrupted at all.”