Farah chided over withdrawal

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Published: Sunday 7th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Mo Farah is facing criticism for abandoning Sunday’s Birmingham Grand Prix and jetting back to the United States to seek answers from his coach Alberto Salazar over drug test allegations.

Farah announced his withdrawal from the Diamond League event on the morning of the competition, joining the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill and Christine Ohuruogu on a lengthy list of pull-outs.

The 32-year-old had fronted up to the allegations over Salazar on Saturday, but later decided not to take part in the 1500 metres, saying he was “physically and emotionally drained”.

But Farah’s domestic rival Andy Vernon, with whom he had been embroiled in a social media spat last year, suggested Farah would have been better off turning up to ease the disappointment of fans.

Vernon said: “If it had been me I probably would have said, if I didn’t want to race, that I would come down and be at the track and say ‘hi’ to everyone. He’s not going to get away with it, is he?

“I can’t say it surprised me. When your head’s not in it it’s very hard to go out there and do the job and not only that, he did a 10k race only last week and he’s had three or four days when all this nonsense has gone on.

“So to go out there and have the right head on your shoulders, to race would be very hard.”

Farah is believed to have taken an early flight straight to Portland to see Salazar, who has been embroiled in allegations of doping since a BBC Panorama programme on Wednesday.

There is no suggestion Farah has done anything wrong and both Salazar and another athlete implicated in the report, American Galen Rupp, have vigorously protested their innocence.

In a statement issued early on Sunday morning, Farah said: “This week has been very stressful and taken a lot out of me.

“I have not been able to focus properly on today’s race and after the events of the last few days feel emotionally and physically drained.

“I want to run well in the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing and have decided it is better for me to go back to the US, seek answers to my questions and get back into training.

“I apologise to the people who bought tickets to come and watch me race and ask for your understanding at this time.”

Farah had launched an impassioned defence of his relationship with Salazar at a pre-event press conference in Birmingham on Saturday.

The 32-year-old refused to bow to pressure to end his relationship with Salazar and expressed his anger at being implicated in the allegations.

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

“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.”

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.

Published: Sunday 7th June 2015 by The News Editor

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