Track Runners - Why The Need For So Much Secrecy?


Days of message board speculation ended Wednesday when Ken Goe of The Oregonian reported Kara Goucher would be leaving the Nike Oregon Project training group coached by Alberto Salazar.

Goucher achieved her greatest feats while training under Salazar, notably a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2007 World Championships and third place finishes at the New York City and Boston Marathons.

The announcement did not come as a shock as a post on the message boards on Monday speculated Kara and her husband Adam would be leaving Salazar’s group.

Interestingly, Goucher had written a blog post just two days ago titled “A New Generation of Believers,” in which she praises the recent successes of American women on the international running stage. The post had no mention of leaving the Oregon Project.

It’s hard to second-guess Goucher’s decision if she is doing what she thinks is best for her career. However, the manner which she told the world about it can be questioned. Goucher was not the one who announced the move; instead, it was the work of reporter Ken Goe who contacted Salazar to confirm the story.

Goucher must know that the news would eventually come out as she is among the sport’s highest profile athletes, so why not break the news herself? The constant cloud of secrecy that looms over track and field’s biggest stars is a reason why the sport struggles to draw supporters since fans never really know what’s going on with their favorite athletes.

Athletes’ basic status is very out in the open in other sports with mainstream followings – even if the information is negative. Tiger Woods gets a new swing coach? The news appears on his website and is instantly picked up by thousands of news outlets. The story bring out much negative speculation about his career but provides the public a general awareness and encourages fans to continue following the sport. This simply does not go on in track and field.

Alan Webb left the Oregon Project in late March of this year and immediately created widespread discussion about what his next move would be. It wasn’t until months later that it was officially confirmed Webb would be training under University of Virginia coach Jason Vigilante.

Chris Solinsky’s hamstring injury was not known until he dropped out of the Prefontaine Classic 10,000 meter race. It explains why he only paced the 10k at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational instead of partaking in the entire race, but it does us very little good to known this postmortem.

It is understandable that athletes want to keep certain knowledge under wraps from opponents who can use it as an advantage. Bill Belichick lists so many of his players on the injured list in order to limit the amount of truthful information for opposing coaches.

For the sake of the sport, there must be some middle ground between secrecy and open information for the public to stay informed about their favorite athletes.

Tags: Alberto Salazar Kara Goucher

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