Andy Ruiz Jr wants to ‘end’ Anthony Joshua’s career in Saudia Arabia rematch

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Andy Ruiz throws a punch at Anthony Joshua during their fight in New York in June
Andy Ruiz Jr (right) beat Anthony Joshua in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden in June

Unified world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr says he wants to finish Anthony Joshua’s career after confirming he will contest a rematch in Saudi Arabia.

United States-born Mexican Ruiz, 29, shocked Britain’s Joshua in New York in June to win the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world titles.

They are set to meet again in the Middle East on 7 December.

“I took it to AJ in the Big Apple and I’m looking forward to ending his career in the desert,” said Ruiz.

The fight was announced by 29-year-old Joshua’s camp earlier in August, but Ruiz had not confirmed his participation.

But on Saturday he posted on social media: “I’m excited to announce my rematch with Anthony Joshua.

“In the first fight I made history and became the first ever Mexican/American heavyweight champion of the world.

“I am grateful to Saudi Arabia for inviting me.”

Human rights campaigners have questioned the choice of venue, citing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

The duo had differing views on the incident and headed off to speak to the stewards, along with their respective representatives, after they decided to investigate the clash.

READ MORE: Verstappen says his car ‘came alive’ in stunning Austrian GP comeback

After spending several hours reviewing the video evidence as well as speaking to the drivers and their team representative, the stewards ultimately they decided no further action was necessary.

Explaining the decision, the stewards said they “Car 33 [Verstappen] sought to overtake car 16 [Leclerc] at Turn 3 on lap 69 by out-braking car 16. When doing so, car 33 was alongside car 16 on the entry of the corner and was in full control of the car while attempting the overtaking move on the inside of car 16.

“However, both car 33 and car 16 proceeded to negotiate the corner alongside each other but there was clearly insufficient space for both cars to do so. Shortly after the late apex, while exiting the corner, there was contact between the two cars.

“In the totality of the circumstances, we did not consider that either driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident. We consider that this is a racing incident.

“Competitors are reminded that they have the right to appeal certain decisions of the Stewards, in accordance with Article 15 of the FIA International Sporting Code and Article 9.1.1 of the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, within the applicable time limits.”

The result ensures Red Bull’s power unit supplier Honda of their first victory since the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Alberto Salazar: The inside story of Nike Oregon Project founder’s downfall

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Alberto Salazar holds a stopwatch
Alberto Salazar has been banned from athletics for four years after being found guilty of doping violations

That Alberto Salazar – one of the world’s most famous athletics coaches – has been found guilty of doping violations will send shockwaves through the sport. Here, Mark Daly – the BBC reporter whose Panorama programme sparked the United States Anti-Doping Agency investigations – reveals the inside story of Salazar’s downfall.

Months of meticulous evidence gathering had gone into making the programme, with a huge amount of oversight from BBC lawyers. We asked for detailed responses from Salazar and Rupp. They issued firm denials, but were short on detail.

Our Panorama programme – Catch Me If You Can – was broadcast in June 2015.

After the broadcast, Magness was catapulted into the limelight – a position he says he did not relish.

He said: “It was hugely intimidating and also made you feel kind of powerless because your story, your identity, is no longer yourself… having no control over that is frightening… every bit of your life gets dissected.”

The story was headline news around the world, and with it came tough questions for Farah and UK Athletics (UKA) – the sport’s governing body in the UK.

UKA had made Salazar a consultant to its endurance programme, along with legendary British athletes Steve Cram and Paula Radcliffe.

We made and make no allegations about Farah, but questioned his association with a coach who was believed by so many of his former athletes to be on the wrong side of the line.

At an emotional news conference three days after the programme, Farah said his name was being “dragged through the mud”. He said he wanted answers from his coach, but refused to part with him.

Questions were now being asked over what, if any, due diligence was done on Salazar by Farah and UKA. Salazar had been coach to US athlete Mary Slaney, who had tested positive for testosterone in 1996.

“That’s the question I asked before [joining Salazar’s team in 2011] and Alberto said he wasn’t coaching her at the time,” said Farah.

But Salazar was coaching her at the time – and the questions were mounting. Some in the sport were urging Farah to part with the American.

Salazar’s backlash against the ‘haters’

Salazar was not about to take the allegations lying down.

Three weeks after the programme aired, he issued a blistering 12,000-word riposte, denouncing the BBC and ProPublica’s journalism and demanding an apology.

He said he needed the testosterone for his personal use because he had been diagnosed with a condition called hypogonadism, which results in low testosterone, and produced a letter from a specialist.

He admitted the testosterone experiment, which used his own sons as “guinea pigs”, took place. But he claimed it was designed to protect against his athletes being “sabotaged” by someone rubbing testosterone gel on them after a race so they would test positive.

The whistleblowers were “haters” and we, the journalists involved, were “irresponsible”. He reserved his most damning criticism for Magness, describing him as a “failed coach”.

Salazar’s explanations seemed to be enough for NOP athletes. Rupp said he was 100% behind his coach, and Rupp’s parents emerged in the media calling the allegations “baseless and outrageous”.

But his response provoked as many questions as answers – and Usada was watching.

It would later emerge that just four days after the programme aired, Usada wrote to Salazar demanding explanations as well as evidence of his own apparent need for possessing testosterone. It followed that up by asking about the “sabotage” experiment.

So began a period of intensive investigation by the agency, led by Travis Tygart, the man who brought down Armstrong.

So what did UKA do? No allegations had been levelled at Farah, but his coach to whom UKA had entrusted its prized asset was now under intense scrutiny. UKA launched a review.

“That was just a sham,” Magness told me. “I mean, their investigation consisted of [a] 30 to 45-minute Skype call with me. So that sums it up to me, if that’s the extent of your investigation.

“That’s the shocking thing to me… forget the things that we don’t know – if you just look at the things he admitted to doing, like the experiment on testosterone to see if people would test positive…. some of the prescription drugs that he admitted to having and sending in the mail and things like that. That alone should be, like, red flag waving right here.”

UKA, despite taking evidence from several of the whistleblowers as well as from the BBC, found “no reason to be concerned” and gave Farah the green light to carry on with Salazar.

Some of the sport’s biggest names came out in support of Salazar, notably those with associations with Nike.

IAAF president Coe, then a paid Nike ambassador, stood by his “good friend” of 35 years. He said: “Alberto… is a first-class coach. Don’t run away with the idea that this [NOP] is a hole-in-the-wall, circa 1970s Eastern Bloc operation. It’s not.”

Salazar was confident Usada’s investigation would run aground and find no evidence of doping violations against him. “They will find Jimmy Hoffa’s body first,” he quipped, referencing the controversial union boss whose disappearance has never been solved.

Medals at Rio 2016… but Fancy Bears bite

The 2016 Rio Olympics came and went without a whisper from Usada. NOP was once again revelling in Olympic glory. Farah completed a historic double-double by winning the 5,000m and 10,000m, Rupp took bronze in the marathon, Matt Centrowitz won gold in the 1500m. Press reports suggested the Usada investigation had been quietly dropped. Farah gave an interview saying he felt “vindicated” for standing by Salazar.

Galen Rupp celebrates winning bronze in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics
Galen Rupp – who strongly denies ever breaking any rules – celebrates his bronze medal in Rio

But that bubble soon burst.

In February 2017, the Russian hackers Fancy Bears popped up with a series of devastating sports leaks. Among them, a secret IAAF list of athletes who were “likely doping” was published. It included Farah and Rupp. The pair were among 50 athletes secretly flagged by the Athlete Biological Passport, and subsequently cleared as “normal”. Neither has ever tested positive.

Then, a 269-page interim Usada report of its NOP investigation was passed to the Sunday Times by the Russian hackers.

The report painted a damning picture of a culture of coercion and secrecy at NOP and accused Salazar and Dr Brown of cheating and being cavalier with the health of athletes including Farah.

It said Salazar and Dr Brown “almost certainly” broke anti-doping rules over the infusion of L-carnitine. The report accused the pair of obstructing Usada’s investigation by altering some medical records and refusing to hand over others. Infusion guinea pig Magness noticed, when he read the leaked report, that his medical notes had been changed. NOP athlete Dathan Ritzenhein’s notes had also been altered; a notation indicating his infusion was just below the allowable limit had apparently been added.

Usada learned Farah had had an infusion in the UK. UKA would later tell an inquiry this was within the legal limits, even though it hadn’t been recorded properly. Farah has always strongly denied breaking any rules.

The report also reveals Salazar eventually agreed to be interviewed under oath by Usada investigators, who, after delving into his own testosterone use, concluded he had failed to provide adequate justification for possession of the drug, constituting a doping violation. The report, while strongly hinting Salazar may have started using the drug before he finished his running career, also suggests he may have used it on Rupp during massage treatments. Rupp has always strongly denied breaking any rules.

The publication of this top-secret report was obviously not what Usada wanted – but it seems to have forced its hand for it can now be revealed both Salazar and Dr Brown were noticed of charges in March and June 2017 respectively and both formally charged in June of that year with anti-doping violations. The charges related to the claims about testosterone, the L-carnitine infusions, and tampering with evidence to thwart doping investigators.

Neither Magness nor any of the other NOP athletes were charged.

It is understood that despite 10 NOP athletes agreeing Dr Brown could discuss their medical records with Usada, he steadfastly refused to do so.

Salazar and Dr Brown, armed with heavyweight legal teams funded by Nike, contested the charges. This meant the cases had to go the American Arbitration Association (AAA).

This was a hugely complex case, and one which did not have a slam-dunk positive drugs test to stand upon.

But Tygart’s team specialise in these rare, non-analytical positive cases (Armstrong being the case in point) and believed there was enough evidence to justify a lifetime ban for the coach. All of this was being done behind closed doors to protect both the innocent until proven guilty, and also the integrity of the cases. Once again, people started to think it all had gone away.

Shortly after charges were laid in 2017, stories started appearing in the UK press that Farah was seeking to distance himself from Salazar. He announced he was leaving the American in October that year, but not, he insisted, because of the doping allegations.

He said: “If I was going to leave because of that I would have done. If Alberto had crossed the line I would be out the door, but Usada has not charged him with anything.”

Only, it had. Farah insists he was not aware of this. Olympic champion Centrowitz soon followed him out of the NOP door.

Then, once more, all was quiet. In reality, it was anything but.

Hearings, like mini court cases, were held for each case in May and June 2018, during which witnesses, including Magness and Goucher, were grilled by both sides. Dr Brown was eventually compelled by the arbitrators to give testimony under oath. The AAA panel, consisting of three judges with experience at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, then retired to consider their verdict.

What happened on Tuesday?

Early on Tuesday, the arbitrators handed down their judgements – both Salazar and Dr Brown were guilty of doping violations and banned from the sport for four years.

Tygart said: “The athletes in these cases found the courage to speak out and ultimately exposed the truth.

He added: “While acting in connection with the Nike Oregon Project, Mr Salazar and Dr Brown demonstrated that winning was more important than the health and wellbeing of the athletes they were sworn to protect.”

Both were found to have trafficked testosterone, used banned infusion methods and tampered with athletes’ records.

Their bans begin with immediate effect and will send shockwaves through the sport.

What happens next?

This judgement can be appealed against, so it is perhaps not the end of the story. But it is surely the end of Salazar’s coaching career, and possibly even NOP. Salazar was NOP, and almost nothing happened there without his say-so.

This will have a seismic impact in the world of athletics. Several NOP athletes are running at the World Championships in Doha this week, and one has already won a gold medal – Sifan Hassan in the women’s 10,000m. Rupp is due to take on Farah in the Chicago marathon in a fortnight.

UKA supremo Neil Black is sure to come under fire for allowing Farah to remain at NOP following the Panorama programme. UKA stands accused of whitewashing its review and turning a blind eye to the concerns about the man who turned Farah into the world’s best; blinded by the promise of more gold medals.

And Farah? What this decision means is all of his greatest achievements on the track were delivered under the tutelage of a coach who has been exposed as a cheat and a doper. That doesn’t mean Farah cheated; there is no evidence he did. His judgement, though, will come under intense scrutiny.

Magness, who told me he “felt vindicated” and was relieved their “voices had been heard”, had this to say about Farah: “I don’t know what Mo knew or didn’t know. Only he knows that. But I know what he knew from 2015 onwards, and you got to face up to those decisions and who you tie yourself to.”

Farah could have parted with the American when the allegations first surfaced.

He didn’t – and the legacy he so craves will suffer as a consequence.

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