19 Jun 2015

Has doping row left Mo Farah exposed to guilt by association?

The silence from Mo Farah’s controversial coach is deafening. It helps neither Farah, nor his own reputation.

Alberto Salazar is accused of encouraging his athletes to dope. He’s promised a full explanation, and sources close to Farah say he’ll prove that many of his accusers are lying. But thus far he has said virtually nothing.

Farah himself is only accused of missing drugs tests. Not in itself proof of anything other than being human. In fact it’s believed nine British athletes missed two drugs tests during the year in question, 2011.

And the second of Farah’s missed tests is in itself a matter of great controversy.

2015 Prefontaine Classic - Day 1

I’m told Farah was staying on the third floor of a large shared house at the time the testers visited. It was 7am – but apparently neither he nor any of the other residents heard the doorbell. The testers are meant to continue ringing for a full hour – but still no one heard. “Did they stay for the full hour, or just ring once and leave?” is the question Farah’s people asked of UKAD at the time.

Farah’s people are so convinced the testers didn’t make themselves properly known that they tried to turn the matter into a test case. They submitted four separate witness reports (from other residents in the house at the time) to UKAD in their appeal.  This in addition to the video that is said to illustrate the layout of the house.

But it is strict liability. Miss a test without very good reason – and you miss a test. End of story.

None of this speaks to the bigger questions of course.

“Is Mo Farah a drugs cheat?” is the underlying unspoken implication. But there is no evidence of this. None at all.

Alberto Salazar is another matter. He says he has evidence that he isn’t. He must provide it. Not just for himself but for Mo Farah’s sake too.

It may not be fair, but in the court of public opinion it leaves Farah exposed to something almost as damaging as guilt itself.

Guilt by association.

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