Lopez Lomong, who won the 1,500-meter title Sunday at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., wrote in an email that Alberto Salazar has apologized to him for an angry outburst a day earlier.
In an incident first reported by freelance writer Jon Gugala, Salazar accused the two-time U.S. Olympian of impeding Galen Rupp during the 3,000 final on Saturday.
Lomong is part of the elite training group coached by Jerry Schumacher and based on the Nike campus. He finished fourth in the 3,000.
Salazar coaches Rupp as part of the Nike Oregon Project, also based on the Nike campus. Rupp finished second in the 3,000.
Near the end of an email Q-and-A that I conducted with Lomong on Wednesday, he wrote that Salazar phoned him to say he was sorry.
“I completely accept his sincere apology,” Lomong wrote. “I am moving forward with a clean slate.”
Here is the complete Q-and-A, in which Lomong explains how gratified he was to win the 1,500 in Albuquerque, where his fiance, Brittany Morreale, is stationed as a member of the U.S. military:
Q: What was the race plan going into the 1,500 final?
A: Going into the final I knew I was up against tough competition and a tough field. I was a little surprised by the number athletes all lining up together on the 200m track. The plan was to go out and put myself in a good position to have a shot at getting one of the World Championships spots. The fast 3K the day before took a little bit out of me but I was excited to get to compete and had confidence in my training plan.
Q: How well did you execute the plan?
A: The execution was excellent. I was happy to come away with a win. I expected there to be a lot of movement and jostling on the track and I was glad I was able to execute.
Q; What, if anything, surprised you in the race?
A: I’ve run many finals during my time as a professional and this seemed like a pretty straight forward finals race despite the large field and the small track.
Q: How concerned were you about running a second final at altitude in as many days?
A: I have been up in Colorado Springs for the last 5 weeks and I think I was prepared to compete at altitude in back to back races.
Q: How gratifying was the victory?
A: It was great to come to my second home (my fiance serves in the military in Albuquerque) and I had a great crowd of friends and family who came out to cheer me on! It felt like a hometown race and I was proud to get to run in front of friends and fans two days in a row. It was so great to bring home a “gold” to Brittany.
Q: What are your goals for the World Indoor?
A: My goal is to put myself in a good position and gun for that Gold medal and a place on the podium! It will be a physical race of course and will take a lot of heart and speed to win it.
Q: What are your plans for the outdoor season?
A: This outdoor season I plan to focus on developing my 5,000m skills. I will likely open up the season at Stanford in early May at the Payton Jordan meet.
Q: There have been published reports about Alberto Salazar yelling at you on Saturday. Are the reports accurate?
A: Emotions were running very high after both of the 3,000m races and some things may have been said and may have happened that were driven by passion rather than reason. I know how invested coaches can be and sometimes that can spill over in unfortunate ways.
Q: It’s my understanding that Salazar has apologized. Did he make his apology by phone or email or in person?
A: Coach Salazar and I spoke this morning on the phone and we have put the events that happened on Saturday behind us. I am honored to be representing the USA in Poland and I know that we have put a great team together to chase after medals!
Q: How satisfied are you with the apology?
A: I completely accept his sincere apology. I am moving forward with a clean slate.
I also had an email exchange and a followup phone conversation with Tom Ratcliffe, the agent for both Lomong and Andrew Bumbalough, who also trains with Schumacher’s group.
Ratcliffe said he had asked USA Track & Field to look into the verbal exchange between Salazar and Lomong.
“Although at this juncture Lopez is satisfied with the apology,” Ratcliffe wrote. “So he’s not going to press forward.”
Bumbalough was disqualified in the 3,000 at the USA Indoor for what increasingly is looking like a case of mistaken identity.
Ratcliffe said he has asked that Bumbalough be reinstated, but not has not heard whether USATF will do that.
— Ken Goe
To see Ken Goe’s story in its original form, please go to:
(Editor’s note: Good luck to Lopez Lomong as he races in Sopot, Poland next weekend! )