Incidents surrounding 3,000 meter races "Ugly for the sport", by Jon Gugala
updated Sunday, February 23, 2014 by editor, changes in bold
by Jon Gugala
Lee Troop is the Boulder-based coach of Laura Thweatt, the athlete who led the early stages of the women's 3000-meters at the 2014 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Thweatt finished fifth (sixth before the disqualification of Gabe Grunewald), and Troop walked with her from the track to the athletes' warm up area to decompress after her race. On the way, he says, he watched Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar raising his voice at one of the USATF officials at the protest table.
Back in the warm-up area, Troop was feet from Nike coach Jerry Schumacher, who was talking to a few people. That's when, Troop says, Salazar stormed into the area with at the very least three other people--and appeared to nearly make physical contact when confronting Schumacher.
"It was just like this complete continuation from what was going on earlier," Troop says. "[Salazar] just kind of ran and launched [at Schumacher]."
One of Salazar's group intervened before Salazar made contact, but Troop says that though Salazar didn't have a clenched fist, indicating a punch, there definitely would have been a push, in his opinion.
At this point, Salazar was telling Schumacher. "You're against us," Troop remembers Salazar saying.
Schumacher, whom he remembers was composed and unrestrained, asked what Salazar was talking about.
"You're always after us," Troop remembers Salazar repeating.
"It was just crazy. It was just ridiculous," he says. "It just went on, the screaming match."
Salazar was visibly fighting against the restraint of one of his group, and Troop says that he felt the action was endangering Thweatt. So he (Troop) jumped up and pushed Salazar and his restrainer away.
To those that witnessed it, Troop says they were more confused than anything.
"It was just like Alberto was looking for any opportunity on any situation," Troop says. "To be perfectly honest, it was just bad for the sport, the way the whole thing was conducted. It looked poor; it was bad; I think a lot of people are going to be walking away with a really bad taste in their mouth. It's just not right on so many levels."
I've reached out to both Salazar and Schumacher for comment; at the time of this writing neither has responded.
"It was like a volcano that was just building up to erupt," Troop says, "and we saw the complete eruption and the meltdown."
Salazar was ushered off by his group, and Troop says Schumacher remained, but was not visibly shaken by the incident.