(Reuters) – Four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah said he had suffered “financially and emotionally” in the fallout from his former coach Alberto Salazar being banned for doping violations, even though the Briton has not been implicated.
American Salazar was banned for four years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency last year for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct” as head coach of the Nike Oregon Project, a camp designed mainly to develop U.S. endurance athletes.
Salazar has denied any wrongdoing and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against his ban, but Farah said in an interview with The Times here on Saturday that he had suffered as sponsors backed out while he constantly had to defend himself.
“If I wasn’t Mo Farah and I saw Mo Farah and I’m seeing these headlines… I’d ask the same questions,” said Farah, who has never failed a drugs test and has not been accused of any wrongdoing. “I’m just being honest. I’ve got nothing to hide.
“I don’t want to go into any more detail but there’s been a lot of stuff, financially and emotionally, where I have suffered a lot.”
Farah worked with Salazar from 2011 to 2017 and said he initially stuck around as he had a family to take care of before eventually returning to England in late 2017.
“He also hadn’t been found guilty (at the time),” Farah said. “And it wasn’t just about me. As a single man I could have just said ‘move’… I had four kids, three at school, my wife’s there, we’d bought a house.
“I’m not just going to say, ‘There’s been some allegations, we’re going.’”
Former UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner said he tried to convince Farah to leave Salazar in 2015, soon after he won the 5,000m and 10,000m at the world championships in Beijing.
“I would have loved Mo to walk away,” Warner told the BBC here in an interview published on Friday. “He was adamant he wasn’t going to change his coach.
“I personally tried to persuade him to change coach… I talked him through the board’s thinking at the time around the whole Oregon Project and his position within it. I had one last go at saying to him: ‘Are you sure you want to take that risk?’
“He was adamant he wanted to stay with Salazar, so everything else fell into place behind that.”