Matthew Centrowitz has found himself unwittingly drawn into a controversy surrounding the Nike Oregon Project and head coach Alberto Salazar.
Centrowitz, a Broadneck High School graduate, has been a member of the Nike Oregon Project since turning professional in 2012, and thus has been been forced to defend himself and the team against cheating allegations.
On June 3, the British Broadcasting Corporation and the United States website ProPublica released stories alleging doping by the Nike Oregon Project, which is led by Salazar and based in Portland. Both reports specifically singled out Galen Rupp, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000-meter run.
Making the allegations are former Nike Oregon Project assistant coach Steve Magness, elite distance runners Kara Goucher and Adams Goucher along with massage therapist John Stiner.
Kara Goucher, who won a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2007 World Championships while with the Nike Oregon Project, claims to have seen documentation that indicates Rupp has been using the banned substance testosterone for many years.
Both media reports also reference Salazar pushing his runners to take asthma and thyroid medication, neither of which is against international track and field rules, but use of which many consider unethical.
After winning the 1,500-meter run at the United States Association of Track and Field National Championship last Saturday, Centrowitz felt compelled to speak on behalf of Nike Oregon Project.
"With everything that's going on, I wanted to win this title for my team," he said. "Compared to what Alberto and Galen have been going through, it hasn't been too hard for me personally. This didn't directly involve me. It's more indirect with me being part of the team. Galen is a good friend of mine and Alberto is like a second father to me. I do a good job of blocking out distractions."
Goucher claims she was pressured into taking a thyroid injection against her doctor's advice while there are also accusations of asthma inhalers being used. Centrowitz stated flatly that he has never seen any of that type of activity while with the Nike Oregon Project.
"I can safely say that if I ever saw one thing I felt was wrong I would have been the first to leave," Centrowitz said. "For the record, I don't take inhalers and I'm not on thyroid medication – never have, never will. The only supplements I take are Vitamin C and Iron B. I've said that several times and I will continue to say that. There's a life after running and I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that right now."
Asked about the topic this week by The Capital, Centrowitz reiterated his stance.
"I sleep well at night knowing that I compete clean," he said. "I stand by what I say and have the full support of my coaches, sponsors and family. We'll just continue to focus on the task at hand, which is winning medals, and leave the speculation to other people."