Wednesday, 12 July 2017 16:55

If Mo Farah cares about his sport there are questions he must answer

By Martin Samuel - Sport for the Daily Mail

  • Hackers released files which claimed Mo Farah was under suspicion of doping
  • Farah was among a number of athletes classed as 'likely doping' by the IAAF
  • Another document from 2016 suggested Farah was no longer under suspicion
  • Olympic champion promised at the weekend: 'I will never, ever fail a drugs test'

The details were not ancient history. The test dated from November 23, 2015, so less than two years ago. The information was not fake.

The IAAF confirmed that, while the material had been hacked, it was theirs and it was genuine. And the wording was plain as day.
'Likely doping,' the notation read. 'Passport suspicious: further data is required.'

So, it wasn't, as Mo Farah would have us believe, 'something out of nothing'. 'Likely doping' isn't nothing. 'Likely doping' is very much something.
And, yes, a follow-up note in April 2016 stated that Farah's blood passport was 'now flagged as normal' by the IAAF. Yet if we believe the good news, what of the rest of it?

The IAAF cannot be lauded when they find nothing wrong, and dismissed when they are suspicious, just as the media cannot be there simply to wave pom-poms and cheer British athletes to their next gong at Buckingham Palace.
Farah has questions to answer and, if he cares for his sport as well as for himself, he should be happy to answer them.

Yet, like so many athletes, he seems oblivious to the crisis engulfing track and field. It is a matter of trust.

As long as the London Stadium is full for the World Championships this summer, Farah will continue to presume all is right in his world — yet the trials in Birmingham recently attracted a crowd no bigger than is found at Leyton Orient.
Before the next Olympics, many of the most consistent medal winners will bow out, too. Farah from the arena at least, plus Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford and Christine Ohuruogu.
The global star name, Usain Bolt, is also departing. These are not high times for the sport.

We now know a lot of what we saw in 2012 was false. The Russians corrupted the London Olympics and, in a cynical attempt at diversion, are attempting to poison the discussion that has followed.
The Fancy Bears hack that has cast doubt on Farah did the same on Sir Bradley Wiggins and British Cycling.
It is Russia's attempt at equivalency. They organised a state sponsored doping programme, athletes in other countries utilised Therapeutic Use Exemptions.

What's the difference? Quite a lot, actually. One is pure evil, the other within the rules. But that doesn't mean we can only investigate what suits us.
For every time a phrase such as 'likely doping' appears next to a big name like Farah, a little bit of trust is eroded. The next generation of athletes — Laura Muir, Katarina Johnson-Thompson — are coming to the fore in an era where the instinctive reaction is doubt.
We think our scepticism is healthy, but it isn't really. It means all the good, clean athletes are distrusted, too. And that must be very frustrating.

Yet each time one of the heroes of Britain's golden Olympic era responds to reasonable questioning with contempt, rather than concern, he betrays that legacy and makes it harder for the next generation to achieve credibility.
Why is it an affront that Farah is required to shed light on issues with his blood passport? Why shouldn't we ask what is meant by 'likely doping'?
It does not help that Farah is so strongly allied to a coach, Alberto Salazar, who remains under suspicion, or that he trains in regions whose sporting regimes are equally doubted.

'I will never, ever fail a drugs test,' he promised at the weekend and that is good to hear. Yet cheats such as Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones have undermined our trust in the strident counter-offensive, too.
That is what Farah fails to understand. Even when there is nothing, we can no longer get something out of our minds.

Farah leads British challenge at world championships

LONDON (Reuters) - Mo Farah will defend his 5,000 and 10,000 metres world titles on home soil next month after being named on Tuesday in Britain's team for the world athletics championships.

The double Olympic champion in both events, who has not been defeated at either distance in a major championship since 2011, is the leading draw among 78 British athletes chosen for the event which begins on Aug. 4.

Long-jumper Greg Rutherford will also defend his crown in the same stadium where he won gold at the London 2012 Olympics, despite an ankle injury suffered last month.

Laura Muir will hope to build on her double success at the European indoor championships in the 1,500 and 3,000 metres. Promising sprinter Adam Gemili misses out on the 200 metres and will feature only in the 4x100m relay squad.

Britain won seven medals in athletics at the Olympics in Rio last year, the same number they won at the world championships in Beijing in 2015.

"This feels bigger for us than Rio," said Neil Black, the performance director for British Athletics.

"We've selected some incredibly talented athletes, and in many events there have been some close calls. It's now up to them to grasp this opportunity and produce performances that will make the whole nation proud."

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge, editing by Ed Osmond)

Seb Coe Calls On Olympic Dream To Be Sold Better

The International Olympic Committee, forced into a corner, has agreed to award the 2024 and 2028 Games at the same time later this year, with Paris likely to take the earlier edition and Los Angeles the later one.

Both had originally bid for the ’24 Olympics only, LA stepping in after Boston, the USA’s preferred choice, dropped out.

It withdrew after first Hamburg, then Rome and finally Budapest all cancelled their bids citing mainly exorbitant and increasing costs.

The spectre of corruption and dilapidated, unused venues also weighs heavily on the minds of potential bidders, as does the prospect of a long and very expensive campaign that for most ends in failure.

The cost of the campaigns alone can be enough to put anyone off throwing their hat in the ring.

Chris Dempsey from the “No Boston Olympics” group campaigned hard to make sure that bid was halted.

“We did not want to see [Boston’s] future put at risk by a 10 to 15 billion dollars sporting event that was going to leave our city with a bunch of venues we didn’t need and a lot of debt that we’d have to pay back," he said.

And he believes the IOC is far from transparent when it encourages cities to put themselves forward in the first place.

“This is not a race to see who is the best city…this is an auction where the IOC is trying to extract as many concessions as it possible can from the host cities.

"And I think cities around the world are wising up to that.”

But Seb Coe, now IAAF President but in 2012 the figurehead for the London Games, told ITV News today the Olympic movement needs to work harder to distinguish between cost and investment.

“I know that through the London years that the transformation of East London which is an extraordinary place now is in large part the story of the Games," he said.

"We have to go on explaining that what we are doing is not just delivering a great sporting event for two or three weeks, we have to leave things behind that make a difference in the lives of young people and I’m not sure as yet we’ve mastered that narrative.”

That the most recent Games in Rio de Janeiro were a sporting success is by and large unarguable, what has followed though in less than a year is far from encouraging.

Many of the venues are abandoned and are already falling into disrepair, the city can’t afford to run them.

The organisers of Rio Games are still thought to owe various suppliers and contractors more than £20 million.

The IOC has already contributed an astonishing £1.1 billion to Brazil’s showpiece event and will not be helping out anymore.

It is that legacy and not London’s which is pushing the IOC to be more creative.

They now start negotiating with both Paris and Los Angeles, hoping they can broker a way ahead to suit all parties.

When that is done it will be back to the drawing board and an increasingly unpopular one at that.
Last updated Tue 11 Jul 2017