Mo Farah’s lack of world records might well be his best defence against drug allegations
‘Everyone is so into this drug mania. Everybody believes that if anybody runs wells they have to be on drugs. But the way I look at it, if you don’t want people to say things about you, go run real crappy and then nobody will talk about you’
Britain’s Mo Farah wins the men’s 5,000 metres final at the World Championships at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Time passes slowly up here in the mountains, which is a good thing, because there is no rushing the gentle music and seductive lyrics of Another Self Portrait. No wonder critics are suddenly united in rewriting their opinions, or at least in admitting they missed something first time around.
“What is this shit?” Greil Marcus asked, in his Rolling Stone review of the original and often ridiculed Self Portrait, released in 1970.
“What is this? This is terrific!” Marcus writes in the linear notes of the 2013 version, released today, and already streaming down the information superhighway. Indeed these 35 reissued songs – volume number 10 in the Bootleg Series – have prompted current Rolling Stone editor David Fricke to describe Another Self Portrait as “one of the most important, coherent and fulfilling Bob Dylan albums ever released”.
It’s all part of the game, when even the best critics are forced to swallow their pride and admit they were wrong. It’s been a bit like that with Rob Heffernan in the aftermath of his gold medal performance at the World Championships in Moscow. Suddenly, the critics are united, and even those who once ridiculed race walking, or argued that our athletes are, well, shit, are now declaring Heffernan a sporting triumph for the ages – which of course he is. The pity is that there is still valid criticism of the Irish athletics system, and whether Heffernan’s success in Moscow covers up the cracks in that system, or simply further reveals them.
Although this is nothing compared to some of the divisive opinions that suddenly surround Mo Farah and Usain Bolt in the aftermath of Moscow. Farah’s distance double – as brilliantly delivered as it was – has left some critics hailing him as the greatest British athlete ever, including, it seems, Sebastian Coe. “Farah is now beyond compare in the modern history of athletics,” Coe wrote this week, although in my opinion, Farah needs to break at least one world record to be even considered alongside the likes of Coe himself.
But that’s not really what’s dividing opinions on Farah: “We know we’re never going to test positive for anything, no way in the world,” said his coach, Alberto Salazar, in an interview this week, responding to those who – in their opinion – believe that Farah’s improvement in recent years must have something to do with performance-enhancing drugs.
“Everyone is so into this drug mania,” added Salazar. “Everybody believes that if anybody runs wells they have to be on drugs. But the way I look at it, if you don’t want people to say things about you, go run real crappy and then nobody will talk about you.”