Golden glow fades as Farah faces testing time

Athlete denies accusations of drug use following confirmation of two missed tests

Mo Farah celebrating after winning the men’s 5000m final at the London Olympic Games in London in August 2012.  OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images

Mo Farah celebrating after winning the men’s 5000m final at the London Olympic Games in London in August 2012. OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images

 

When Mo Farah belatedly issued a passionate statement yesterday in an attempt to claw back some of the damage his reputation has incurred this week, the reaction on social media was telling.

While many of those commenting underneath his statement on Facebook were clearly fans, the wider public reaction on Twitter emphasised the scale of the challenge facing the Farah camp.

His exhortation that he had taken hundreds of drug tests and never failed one was met with weary references to Lance Armstrong. The cynicism on show from a sporting public let down one too many times by their heroes was almost the polar opposite of the mood of giddy optimism that reverberated around the Olympic Stadium and the UK as a whole in the summer of 2012.

Rewind to August of that year and it was one of the biggest months in the life of not only Usain Bolt and Farah but also of their agent Ricky Simms and his burgeoning company Pace Sports Management.

Farah’s wife, Tania, who had been with Mo since they were at school and exerts a strong hold over his career off the track, was entitled to feel a swell of pride too as she walked the track with their family.

Second Captains

Alberto Salazar, the coach with the golden touch who had taken Farah’s career to the next level since he joined his Project Oregon team, exuded satisfaction as he chalked up a golden double and his training partner Galen Rupp, the American now at the centre of doping allegations that he and Salazar strenuously deny, picked up a silver in the 10,000m.

Different battle

Panorama

After initially bolting from Birmingham and returning to Oregon to “seek answers” from Salazar, he is now in the south of France preparing for his return to the track in Monaco next month.

Simms, who handles other members of the Nike-sponsored Project Oregon team including Rupp, cannot help but have been conflicted. In all there are at least five athletes on Pace’s books who currently train with Salazar or have been linked with the project – Mary Cain, Matthew Centrowitz, Shannon Rowbury, Jordan Hasay and Rupp among them.

It is Simms who appears to have been advising Farah to stay silent until Salazar has said his piece.

But every day that has gone by since that initial Panorama was broadcast has made Farah appear less sure of his ground. That impression only intensified in the wake of this week’s revelation that he missed two tests within one 18-month window during the run-up to London 2012.

The amateurish video that then emerged of Simms trying to prove to UK Anti-Doping that Farah could not hear his doorbell when testers came to call in 2011 will not do wonders for his reputation.

Deep loyalties

The one thing that is clear at the end of a week that leaves more questions than answers for Farah, despite his belated and welcome statement, is that all of this could have been handled so much better from the start. And that the next six months will define the way that Farah is remembered by a generation for whom his immortality once seemed inviolable. – Guardian service

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