Ohuruogu sympathises with Farah

Published: Monday 8th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Mo Farah has been “unfairly dragged into a very difficult position” by allegations of illegal doping against his coach Alberto Salazar, according to Christine Ohuruogu.

Farah pulled out of Sunday’s Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, claiming he was “physically and emotionally drained” following doping allegations against Salazar and US athlete Galen Rupp, that both deny.

Farah has vowed to stand by Salazar despite the BBC’s Panorama programme alleging the Portland-based coach had overseen Rupp’s use of banned substances.

The 32-year-old has returned to Oregon to challenge Salazar to prove his innocence, a move backed by the reigning 400 metres world champion Ohuruogu.

“What Mo was keen to stress was that he’s just an athlete trying to do his job as best he can,” Ohuruogu told Press Association Sport.

“I haven’t spoken to him but I can imagine he would feel very bad at being dragged through this, when he’s just trying to get himself prepared for the worlds this summer.

“You have to be very clear on the fact that they are allegations and accusations and nothing’s actually been proven.

“So I think it’s unfair to drag him in when nothing’s been proven: he’s been unfairly dragged into a very difficult position.

“He’s being overly scrutinised now when all you want to do as an athlete is get your head down and work and try to cut out all the distractions.

“So I am definitely sympathetic.”

Ohuruogu successfully overturned a doping ban in 2007 after proving only mix-ups caused her to miss out-of-competition testing.

The 2008 Olympic champion and 2012 silver medallist admitted frustrations that any doping cloud can immediately swing public perception.

Ohuruogu was on hand to help with final preparations as the former Olympic Stadium gears up to host the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games in July.

The 31-year-old Londoner shovelled the final debris off the track at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, before throwing her support behind Farah.

Farah addressed the media in Birmingham on Saturday, lamenting his name being “dragged through the mud” because of his links to Salazar, despite no allegations of wrongdoing against him personally.

“I think Mo speaking on Saturday, that was his best way of trying to cope with the situation, just allowing himself to shut down and go and work,” said Ohuruogu.

“If he didn’t say anything people would ask ‘why hasn’t Mo spoken?’

“So I think it’s good for him to set the record straight, say his peace and then go back and try to focus on his job.

“It’s very easy for someone on the outside to say whether he should have competed or not in Birmingham on Sunday.

“I don’t know what I would do if I were in the same situation, maybe I’d be strong enough to cope, maybe I wouldn’t.

“We don’t know what his mindset is.”

Ohuruogu added: “He’s our best athlete. If you look at what he’s done, it’s unmatched, unrivalled, what he’s been able to achieve.

“So there’s a lot of pressure on him, so I don’t think it’s right for us to say what he should have done based on how he’s feeling, because we don’t know what he’s thinking or feeling.

“We’re not in his head and we haven’t gone through what he’s gone through.

“So it’s definitely a personal decision.”

Ohuruogu grew up around Stratford and admitted she still struggles to appreciate the enormity of the London 2012 legacy.

Ohuruogu expects to be in top condition for the World Championships in Beijing in August despite a recent hip niggle.

“There’s something special about coming to this track, because it’s in the town where I grew up and nothing like this has ever happened before in our time,” she said.

“It’s still a really proud feeling to come here.

“I always knew this season would be a tough one, it’s not easy going in as defending champion.

“You realise there’s a lot more pressure on you, you’re now the hunted – I was always the hunter and no one knew when or where I was going to strike.

“But now they all know!

“So it’s slightly different but I’m just still trying to put my different pieces in place to make sure that come August I’m ready.”

Published: Monday 8th June 2015 by The News Editor

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