Alberto Salazar and Dennis Barker are telling the same story:
Salazar did not offer money to Team USA Minnesota runner Matt Gabrielson through Barker, the Team USA Minnesota coach, for a fast pace in the 5000 meter final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
Following up on a rumor that circulated on the Let's Run message boards, Runner's World, HERE, quoted Salazar, the coach of Kara and Adam Goucher, saying he didn't offer money to Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson to help set a fast pace in the men's 5000 meter final of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials to aid Adam Goucher's chances of reaching the Olympic A Standard in the event.
"The money stuff is false, absolutely not true," Salazar told RW's Amby Burfoot in a wide-ranging interview. "I think I made one call to a coach, Dennis Barker, who also had an athlete without an A time. I thought it would be good if some of the B runners worked together to get the standard."
Barker confirmed to DtB that money was not offered in the call Salazar made.
"Alberto did call to ask if Matt was interested in helping with the pace," Barker told DtB via e-mail. "He said he was talking to other coaches as well. Given how the race went, it obviously didn't pan out. But, as I said there was no offer of money."
Brent Vaughn led at a fast pace in the race's early-going, but no other runners followed him closely.
"I wasn't offended by the call and Alberto wasn't pushy about it," Barker added. "It was along the lines of, Hey would Matt, along with some other guys, take a couple of laps each to keep the pace quick enough to give people (in particular Adam, since that's who he coaches) a chance to run the A standard. That's not a direct quote (it was noisy in Track Town Pizza [where Barker took the call]) but it was something like that."
Down the Backstretch had reported, HERE, that Barker took a call from Salazar the night before the final. We published a photo of Barker on the phone with Salazar (re-printed above), although we were unaware of the nature of the call at the time. When message board rumors swirled recently that the call might have been a proposition offering money for pace, we contacted Barker.
In the race in question, Gabrielson was content to follow the pace at the rear of the lead pack and ultimately finished 8th in 13:38.06. Adam Goucher dropped out of the race in the final laps when he and Salazar saw that he could not run fast enough to qualify for the Olympics.
Gabrielson was queried by DtB about the matter as well, but did not respond to our e-mail.
Photo by Pete Miller: Barker talking to Salazar before the Trials 5000m final.