‘There’s a clear agenda to this’ – Farah hits out at questions on Salazar ban

By Andy Hampson, PA

Sir Mo Farah claimed there was an agenda against him as he was grilled on his past links to disgraced coach Alberto Salazar.

Salazar was banned from athletics for four years earlier this month for doping violations following a four-year investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Farah worked alongside Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project from 2011-17.

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Alberto Salazar has been banned for four years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Martin Rickett/PA).
Alberto Salazar has been banned for four years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Martin Rickett/PA).

There has never been any suggestion of wrongdoing by Farah but he has hit out at the innuendo that has accompanied his association with the American coach.

Speaking at a media event to preview Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Farah told reporters: “As I’ve said all along, I’m probably one of the most tested athletes in the world. I’m happy to be tested anytime, anywhere.

“Obviously, reading the story all time time – there’s a clear agenda to this. I’ve seen this many times. I know where you’re going with it – I’ve seen it with Raheem Sterling, I’ve seen it with Lewis Hamilton. I can’t win whatever I do.

“I’m disappointed about you guys making the headlines. It’s not about Mo Farah. This is about Alberto Salazar. What’s it got to do with Mo Farah? It’s not Mo Farah. I’m not Alberto and Alberto can only answer that.”

On Friday it was announced by Nike that the Oregon Project, which was established in 2001, would be closed down.

The sportswear company said there had been “no orchestrated doping” but felt that “uninformed innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions” had “become an unfair burden” on athletes.

Mo Farah trained under Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project from 2011 to 2017 (Martin Rickett/PA).
Mo Farah trained under Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project from 2011 to 2017 (Martin Rickett/PA).

Four-time Olympic champion Farah, 36, said: “I am back in London, I have been out of the Oregon Project for two years. I have based myself in London to focus myself on the marathon and to be with friends and family.

“Obviously it is not my decision to shut down the Oregon Project. That’s Nike, it’s not me. I’m Mo Farah.”

Farah, who is hoping to repeat his 2018 success in Chicago, defended his record.

He said: “If you look back at my history and what I did, and you try to take away what I’ve earned through my hard work.

Mo Farah in action at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka (Gareth Copley/PA).
Mo Farah in action at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka (Gareth Copley/PA).

“If you look back, where was I in 2007 (at the World Championships) in Osaka? I was half a second behind a medal. I was leading until the bell, and then got blown away. So what does that tell you? I’ve learnt to win races and control races.”

He added that the allegations against Salazar first came as a surprise to him.

He said: “At the time, there was no allegation against me. There was an allegation against Alberto Salazar.

“I’ve been clear to you, I’ve been honest from day one. I was in Birmingham racing and pulled out of the race in 2015. I wanted some answers. I flew to Portland to get some answers from Alberto.

Galen Rupp is a former training partner of Mo Farah (Martin Rickett/PA).
Galen Rupp is a former training partner of Mo Farah (Martin Rickett/PA).

“I spoke to him face to face and he assured me at the time these were just allegations. ‘This is not true, there is no allegation against you Mo’. He promised me – and that hasn’t been true.”

American Galen Rupp, winner of the Chicago Marathon in 2017, was also questioned about the matter. Rupp was still being coached by Salazar when his ban was issued.

Rupp said: “I haven’t had any sport-related contact with him (Salazar). I respect the decision, as I always have.

“I am not really going to comment on things like that. It’s obviously out there. I understand it is under appeal and I support him in that appeal, but I am not really going to comment.

“I am really just focused on the race on Sunday. I am going to deal with the coaching thing after that.”

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