NEW YORK: With Nike-backed athletics coach Alberto Salazar slapped with a four-year ban for doping, the US sportswear giant risks being caught up in the scandal — its CEO is even quoted in the suspension ruling.

Citing experiments with testosterone, fat-burning amino acid injections and falsified medical documents, the American anti-doping authority Usada said in its report the highest-profile track and field coach in the world had attempted to use prohibited methods on multiple athletes.

In that document — prepared by an independent panel for Usada — was none other than Mark Parker, the CEO of Nike, which has sponsored Salazar for decades.

Parker was copied on several emails about research done by Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project (NOP), a group created in 2001 by the three-time New York Marathon winner. The alleged programme was for athletes competing at 5,000 and 10,000 metres but not for sprint races, according to the agency.

In a 2011 email to Parker, Salazar explains he had given one of the NOP coaches a test injection of a liter of an amino acid and dextrose (glucose) mixture — a dose clearly above what would be allowed under World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) regulations.

In another email to Parker two years later, Jeffrey Brown, a doctor who worked with the NOP, described experiments with testosterone gel. Parker responded to Brown, “It will be interesting to determine the minimal amount of topical male hormone required to create a positive test.”

Nike has not responded to AFP’s requests for comment. A Nike spokesman told the Wall Street Journal, “Mark Parker had no reason to believe that the test was outside any rules as a medical doctor was involved.” – AFP