Warner offers Farah advice

Published: Monday 8th June 2015 by The News Editor

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UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has said if he was a close friend of Mo Farah’s he would advise the double Olympic champion to suspend his relationship with Alberto Salazar.

Salazar, head coach at the prestigious Nike Oregon Project in Portland and an “unpaid consultant” for UKA, was accused in a BBC Panorama documentary last week of being involved in doping along with Amer ican Galen Rupp. Both deny the allegations.

Farah vowed at a pre-Diamond League press conference in Birmingham on Saturday to stand by his coach until he was proven to have done wrong. He subsequently withdrew from his event on Sunday due to feeling “emotionally and physically drained”.

Warner acknowledged he could understand those who called for the 32-year-old Briton to distance himself from Salazar.

“If I was a personal friend of Mo’s, not the British Athletics chairman, and he was just coming to me for advice, I think I’d have said to him, ‘do you know what, the best thing to do is to suspend the relationship for now, compete on the European circuit this summer, go to the World Championship in Beijing, let the allegations against Alberto be washed through by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and see where it leads’,” Warner said on BBC Radio Five.

“However, I completely respect the fact Mo has great loyalty to his coach. And, as the British Athletics chairman, you absolutely can’t make a knee-jerk reaction like that because Salazar is innocent until proven guilty and we need to conduct our own thorough investigation of everything that’s gone on with British Athletics and around Mo Farah in our engagement with Alberto and let’s see where that goes.

“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 reputationally for some time, if not the rest of his career. He’s found himself, by his own admission in that press conference on Saturday, in a no-win situation.”

UKA announced on Saturday that it had put in place a group to undertake a ”focused review of the performance management system surrounding Mo Farah and the endurance programme, engaging relevant independent experts where required”.

On whether UKA would suspend its relationship with Salazar, Warner said: “We may well do, but only when we’ve conducted a review. So we’ve put in place an internal review team, led by three non-executive directors on our board who are all former athletes.”

Pressed on why links to Salazar had not been ended already, he said: “It’s going to be a review which takes a matter of weeks, not months, and most of our relationship with Alberto is around Mo being coached there and Mo’s gone back there to continue to be coached by him – that’s Mo’s decision. And what we don’t want to do is cut ties with our athlete, who needs all of our support at a difficult time to give his best at the World Championship this summer.”

Farah had been due to race in the 1500 metres at Alexander Stadium on Sunday but instead said he would fly back to the United States to ”seek answers” from Salazar after a “very stressful” week.

Asked if he was annoyed by the late withdrawal, Warner replied: “Yeah, to put it mildly. I’d have loved him to have been there. I actually think it would’ve been right thing for him to do if at all possible to get onto the track. But I’m not Mo – it’s his body, not mine – who’s to say how drained he was? I’m sure he was very drained.”

Published: Monday 8th June 2015 by The News Editor

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