Rupp picks college coach to replace banned Salazar


FILE PHOTO: Galen Rupp of the U.S. looks at the scoreboard after his men's 5000 metres heat at the IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - U.S. distance star Galen Rupp, who was coached for years by the now-banned Alberto Salazar, is training with successful college mentor Mike Smith.

Smith, the head coach at Northern Arizona University, confirmed to Runner's World in an email that he had become Rupp's coach, the magazine reported on Friday.

Smith said he expected Rupp, now 33, “to line up in Atlanta on February 29th (in the U.S. Olympic trials) and contend for a spot on the 2020 Olympic team.”

Rupp won a silver medal on the track in the 10,000 metres at the 2012 London Olympics and took bronze in the 2016 Olympic marathon in Rio.

He has been plagued by Achilles and foot problems in recent years and underwent surgery in 2018.

Salazar was banned for four years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in October for doping violations. [nL2N26M05M]

He has appealed the ban but is prohibited from coaching athletes.

Rupp and Britain's four-times Olympic champion Mo Farah were members of the Nike Oregon Project, which has since been disbanded. Neither athlete has ever failed a doping test.

Smith, who coached Northern Arizona to the 2017 and 2018 U.S. collegiate cross country titles, said Rupp contacted him by phone last autumn about coaching him and he considered the offer from a long time before accepting.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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