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By Rachel Bachman
Famed Nike track coach Alberto Salazar, already banned from the sport for doping violations, on Friday was temporarily suspended by the U.S. Center for SafeSport pending an investigation of allegations of misconduct, according to the center's centralized disciplinary database.
The exact nature of the allegations couldn't be determined. Neither Salazar nor SafeSport immediately replied to requests for comment.
USA Track & Field, the sport's governing body, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
SafeSport implements temporary measures when the center believes they are necessary to protect sport community or athletes, according to information on its website.
In September, Salazar was handed a four-year ban by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct. He is appealing the decision. Salazar oversaw the elite running team the Nike Oregon Project until Nike disbanded it shortly after the suspension.
In the wake of Salazar's doping suspension, several women who ran for the Nike Oregon Project said coaches pressured them to lose weight, sometimes with harmful health consequences, and publicly shamed them about it.
Amy Yoder Begley, a former middle-distance runner with the group, tweeted that she was told she was too fat and "had the biggest butt on the starting line."
Mary Cain, a young prodigy who trained under Salazar, said in a New York Times video in November that she had been "emotionally and physically abused" by a system designed by Salazar. She said she was pressured to lose weight and stopped menstruating for three years.
In previous statements, Salazar has said he had frank discussions with male and female runners about the impact of weight on performance, but disputed that he encouraged female athletes to maintain an unhealthy weight, and denied that any athlete suffered abuse or gender discrimination while running for the Oregon Project.
While SafeSport is best known for investigating allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, athletes including Cain increasingly have spoken about the need to police other harmful forms of behavior, particularly in coaching.
Cain told Sports Illustrated in November that it was "unfortunate that we can seemingly only take full action in terms of banning people when it comes to doping violations. And of course programs like SafeSport have created more of a platform to enforce abuses in sports and make sure young athletes are in a more appropriate environment.
"But the truth is, until my story broke, I didn't even know that they were a platform that I could go to outside of sexual abuses. So anything that was emotional or psychological, I've since started to get in contact and get the ball rolling. But I think it's important to kind of enforce the knowledge that there can be action taken even when it's not almost as egregious as sexual abuse and/or doping incidents."
Cain couldn't be reached for comment.
Write to Rachel Bachman at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 01, 2020 14:18 ET (19:18 GMT)
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