UK Athletics will sift through the medical records of Mo Farah in detail to ensure no foul play has been committed by Britain’s stellar athlete.
Three days on from the UKA saying they had “absolutely no concerns” about Farah and his dealings with his coach, Alberto Salazar, who was accused of widespread doping malpractice by a BBC Panorama investigation, they are now carefully poring over his medical data.
The UKA chairman, Ed Warner, said: “What we can look at is all the data surrounding our own athlete Mo Farah: blood data, supplements data, everything surrounding his medical treatment.
“We’re in charge of that. We run that from the UK through Neil Black, our performance director, and 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 or hasn’t been analysed.”
Farah, who was not accused of any wrongdoing by Panorama, returned to his home in the United States on Sunday morning rather than compete as scheduled at the Birmingham Diamond League fixture, citing emotional exhaustion.
He did so on the premise of seeking immediate answers from Salazar (below) when the pair meet up at the Nike Oregon Project, with the Cuban expected to make a lengthy public statement tomorrow to answer the allegations.
UKA leapt to the defence of Farah on Saturday as chief executive Niels de Vos and Black faced the media with him but, 48 hours on from that public grilling, Warner suggested Farah’s decision to continue with Salazar, who has denied any wrongdoing, as his coach despite the cloud of controversy hanging over him was increasingly damaging.
“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 for some time, if not the rest of his career,” said Warner. “If I was a personal friend of Mo’s and he was just coming to me for advice, I’d have said to him, ‘Do you know what the best thing to do is? Suspend the relationship for now, compete on the European circuit this summer, go to the World Championships in Beijing, let the allegations against Alberto be washed through by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) and see where it leads’.”
It was another confusing message from UKA, with Warner also saying he respected Farah’s “great loyalty to his coach”.
Farah and UKA must now await tomorrow’s response from Salazar before making their next move. As Warner said: “You can’t make a knee-jerk reaction because Salazar is innocent until proven guilty.”
Whether Farah remains with the coach he moved to in 2011 in an effort to end Kenya and Ethiopia’s dominance of distance running and who is a figure he credits for his stunning run of success on the track as the current Olympic, world and European champion remains to be seen.
As well as Farah, UKA are also considering their relationship with Salazar, who heads the Nike Oregon Project but also acts as a consultant to Britain’s endurance programme, and could cut all ties even if Salazar is cleared of any wrongdoing.
“We might still recommend to Mo and might still decide ourselves to suspend our relationship because of the reputational damage that could be caused,” added Warner.
It is thought that seven different sources have taken allegations of wrongdoing by Salazar with regard to his group of athletes to Usada, including former staff and athletes at the Oregon Project.
But one of Salazar’s former assistant coaches at the Oregon Project leapt to the defence of his former boss. Bob Williams, who worked with Salazar and athlete Galen Rupp, who was accused in the Panorama programme of having taken testosterone since 2002, said: “I don’t think Galen would do anything that would besmirch his reputation and neither would Alberto. It’s just not worth the risk. Alberto doesn’t need to do it with drugs.” Rupp has denied any wrongdoing.
Asked if he had ever seen evidence of doping by Salazar, Williams said: “Absolutely not and we were privy to everything as coaches.”