Mo Farah to remain with coach but wants answers

Panorama documentary claimed Alberto Salazar doped another of his athletes

 Mo Farah (right) celebrating winning the Men’s 10,000m final  at the London Olympics with silver medalist Galen Rupp (left) and coach Alberto Salazar. Photo:   Martin Rickett/PA

Mo Farah (right) celebrating winning the Men’s 10,000m final at the London Olympics with silver medalist Galen Rupp (left) and coach Alberto Salazar. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

 

British distance runner Mo Farah will not be ending his relationship with coach Alberto Salazar after saying he has “not seen any clear evidence” that the American has been involved in doping.

Farah, speaking a press conference in Birmingham ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix event, expressed his anger at the fact his name was being “dragged through the mud” following accusations in a BBC documentary that Salazar administered banned substances.

The 32-year-old vowed to stand by his coach, but wants answers as soon as possible, and said he would be the “first person to leave him” if it was proven Salazar had done wrong.

“I’m not leaving Alberto, for the reason I’ve not seen any clear evidence,” Farah said.

“I spoke to Alberto (on Friday night), I got on the phone and said to him, ‘Alberto, what’s going on?’ and he said, ‘Mo, I can prove this to you, it’s just allegations, I’ll show you some evidence’, and I said, ‘Okay’.

“I’m really angry at this situation. It’s not fair, it’s not right. I haven’t done anything but my name’s getting dragged through the mud.

“It’s something not in my control but I want to know answers. I need to know what’s going on – if these things are true, if they’re not true. If they turn out to be true, and Alberto has crossed the line, I’m the first person to leave him.”

The Panorama programme on Wednesday night alleged that Salazar was involved in doping his athlete Galen Rupp, silver medallist at the 2012 London Olympics behind Farah in the 10,000 metres, when the American was only 16 years of age.

Salazar, who won the New York marathon three years in a row between 1980 and 1982 and was also a Boston marathon winner, has worked with Farah since 2011 and has coached the Briton’s training partner Rupp for 14 years.

Neither Salazar nor Rupp appeared in the BBC programme, but both men protested their innocence in statements.

There is no suggestion that Farah has broken any rules, and the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion stressed he had nothing to hide.

“It’s just not right, it’s something I worked so hard for, everything I achieved...” Farah said. “My name is associated with Alberto, and obviously you guys say, ‘Mo, Mo, Mo this, Mo’s coach...’ It’s not right, it’s not fair and I’m angry at the situation.

“My reputation’s getting ruined. You guys, you’re killing me! What have I done?

“There’s questions that need answering. There’s kids out there look up to me, know how hard I work, what I put my body through day in day out, 120 miles week in week out.

“I just don’t know how to explain it, it’s hard.

“It’s like, if you guys have something on me, yes, bring it. I’m happy to share anything you want to know.

“But it’s not about me, so please, it’s about Alberto. So let’s put this on Alberto. Let’s see if Alberto can prove to us... Till then, there’s nothing we can do. I’ve got a big race on the weekend. If I don’t win, you guys will give me a hard time!

“So let me concentrate on the weekend, but yes there’s answers I think the public and the people are owed. They need to know what’s going on, and I need to know myself what’s going on.”

UK Athletics (UKA) performance director Neil Black added: “To make it clear, Mo is saying all of his records are available to the relevant authorities, there’s nothing Mo feels he has to hide.”

UKA earlier on Saturday issued a statement in which it said it has “absolutely no concerns” over the conduct and coaching methods of Salazar in relation to Farah.

It read: “Following the broadcast of BBC’s Panorama programme on Wednesday, UK Athletics has carefully considered the content.

“Whilst acknowledging the gravity of the allegations, UK Athletics can confirm it has had absolutely no concerns over the conduct and coaching methods of Alberto Salazar in relation to Mo Farah or in his role as an endurance consultant.”

It added, however, that its board had met and 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”.

The review will begin immediately, and has been “welcomed and supported” by Farah and Black.

The BBC programme also heard allegations testosterone was seen on several occasions by athletes and staff and that Salazar tested testosterone cream on a human subject, to find out how much it would take to trigger a positive drugs test.

It was also alleged Salazar encouraged the use of therapeutic use exemptions which allow athletes to use a banned substance or method to treat a legitimate medical condition.

Speaking at an earlier press conference in Birmingham, Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford was cautious not to condemn anyone before anything was proven, but expressed his wish not to see athletics go the same way as cycling in terms of its reputation for doping.

“I watched the documentary and everything else, and my view on it is that the right people are looking into it and investigating it and everything else,” said 28-year-old Rutherford.

“I assume once all that’s done we’ll get a better picture of where everything is and what’s been made of it all.

“With regards to my view on it, though, I’m so far away from it I don’t really have an opinion either way.”

He added: “Any form of drugs scandal in any sport – it’s very, very bad for the sport, obviously, because we don’t want youngsters coming through wanting to do the sport thinking you have to take drugs to win.

“You don’t want anything along those lines to make the sport look a bit like other sports, where, sadly ... I like cycling, but a lot of people think that you have to be on drugs to do well in cycling.

“I never, ever want to see athletics go that way.”

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