For the first time, track and field star Kara Goucher is opening up about the shocking turn of events that plagued her Olympic experience.
In July 2021, the U.S. Center for SafeSport banned world-famous marathon runner and track coach Alberto Salazar after anonymous women came forward and alleged Salazar subjected them to sexual abuse.
At the time, an arbitrator ruled it was “more likely than not” that the coach had non-consensually penetrated his runners during massages. He openly denied these claims but was removed from his professional positions.
Now, two years later, Goucher is ready to share her experience with Salazar, who formerly coached her at the Oregon Project. In her memoir, The Longest Race: Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike’s Elite Running Team, the athlete publicly discussed the abuse she endured from famous marathon runner Alberto Salazar, who once acted as a significant inspiration to Goucher.
“I was tired of other people talking about me and my voice not being heard,” she said of her decision to discuss her experience. “I felt like this is the time.”
“I want to tell my side of the story where no one can interrupt me or talk down to me or try to twist what I am saying,” the 44-year-old continued. “I want to set the record straight.”
Goucher added that the situation was particularly jarring since she once looked at Salazar as a father figure. Coming forward was particularly scary because she was still worried about the repercussions he would face.
Kara Goucher admits she spent ‘time worrying about him’ after her experience.
“I spent so much time worrying about him and his family and how it would affect them,” she explained. “I’m not the one that did something wrong, but I realized that keeping those secrets was almost like a cancer in me. And I just felt like I didn’t deserve to live like that anymore.”
Salazar was also suspended for four years from track and field by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for trafficking testosterone. Nike, who used to work with the athlete, has since condemned the actions of the runner for both doping and sexual misconduct against Goucher.
“Sexual misconduct has no place in sports or society and is something we stand vehemently against. As a company, we’ve always taken great pride as a leader in supporting female athletes,” Nike wrote in a statement to PEOPLE Magazine. “We know that Nike can continue to play an elevated role in supporting female athletes and improving their experience in sports.”
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