Mo Farah’s medical data to be assessed by UK Athletics

Ed Warner advises runner to suspend relationship with coach Alberto Salazar during process

Mo Farah’s medical data will be assessed for evidence of doping following allegations against his coach Alberto Salazar. Photo: Barry Coombs/PA

Mo Farah’s medical data will be assessed for evidence of doping following allegations against his coach Alberto Salazar. Photo: Barry Coombs/PA

 

The chairman of UK Athletics (UKA) has confirmed that Mo Farah’s medical data will be assessed for evidence of doping following allegations against his coach Alberto Salazar.

Ed Warner also advised the double Olympic champion to suspend his relationship with Salazar until the allegations have “washed through” and stated that the governing body could suspend its relationship with the Cuban-born coach within weeks.

Salazar, head coach at the Nike Oregon Project in Portland and an “unpaid consultant” for UKA, was accused in a BBC Panorama documentary last week of being involved in doping along with US athlete Galen Rupp, who won 10,000m silver behind Farah at London 2012. Both Salazar and Rupp deny the allegations.

Farah vowed at a pre-Diamond League press conference in Birmingham on Saturday to stand by his coach until he was proven to have done wrong. He subsequently withdrew from his event on Sunday, saying he felt “emotionally and physically drained”.

“What we can look at is all the data surrounding our own athlete, Mo Farah: blood data, supplements data – everything surrounding his medical treatment,” Warner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We’re in charge of that. We run that from the UK, through Neil Black, our performance director, Barry Fudge, who’s our endurance expert.

“We need to make sure there’s nothing else there we haven’t seen, we’re not aware of, hasn’t been analysed.”

Second Captains

Warner added: “It may well be that the outcome of our own investigation says there’s nothing untoward going on as far as we can uncover in any way, shape or form around British Athletics and a British athlete.

“If, subsequently, the coach himself is proven to be guilty of doping offences, then there’s a second stage there and a decision would need to be taken.

“Now, one of the possible outcomes of all of this is, even though – and I’m sure that’s probably going to be the case – there’s nothing untoward proven around Mo Farah and British Athletics, we might still recommend to Mo and might still decide ourselves to suspend our relationship because of the reputational damage that could be caused.

“It’s going to take time, but not a lot of time, I hope. I would think weeks, not months. I’ve been very vocal in saying, ‘these things must be conducted more swiftly’. Because fans turning up at events watching athletes and they need to watch a sport with integrity.

“We need to make sure, going right back to our own review, that absolutely everything that is done in British Athletics, with that project, with our athletes, is on the right side of the line. I believe it is but I want independent evidence of that.”

Warner also acknowledged he could understand those who called for the 32-year-old Briton to distance himself from Salazar.

“If I was a personal friend of Mo’s, not the British Athletics chairman, and he was just coming to me for advice, I think I’d have said to him: ‘Do you know what, the best thing to do is to suspend the relationship for now, compete on the European circuit this summer, go to the World Championship in Beijing, let the allegations against Alberto be washed through by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) and see where it leads’,” Warner said.

“However, I completely respect the fact Mo has great loyalty to his coach. And, as the British Athletics chairman, you absolutely can’t make a kneejerk reaction like that because Salazar is innocent until proven guilty and we need to conduct our own thorough investigation of everything that’s gone on with British Athletics and around Mo Farah in our engagement with Alberto.

“To say instantly you should sever your links would be a very unprofessional thing to do, but from a personal perspective I can see why some people might advise Mo to have done that because this is going to be dogging him reputationally for some time, if not the rest of his career. He’s found himself in a no-win situation.”

UKA announced on Saturday that it had put in place a group to undertake a “focused review of the performance management system surrounding Mo Farah and the endurance programme, engaging relevant independent experts where required”.

Farah had been due to race in the 1500m at Alexander Stadium on Sunday but instead said he would fly back to the US to “seek answers” from Salazar after a “very stressful” week.

Asked if he was annoyed by the late withdrawal, Warner replied: “Yeah, to put it mildly. I’d have loved him to have been there. I actually think it would’ve been the right thing for him to do if at all possible to get on to the track. But I’m not Mo – it’s his body, not mine – who’s to say how drained he was? I’m sure he was very drained.”

(Guardian and agencies)

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