London (AFP) – British athletics great Mo Farah says he would have been the first athlete to leave disgraced coach Alberto Salazar’s camp had he known he was involved in doping.
The 36-year-old Somalia-born distance runner — who will bid for a third successive 10,000 metres Olympic title in Tokyo this year rather than continuing to conquer the marathon — told the BBC he wished he had been aware sooner about Salazar’s illegal activity at the Nike Oregon Project.
Farah was criticised for staying on with the 61-year-old Cuban-born naturalised American till 2017, two years after a BBC documentary first aired claims about doping within the camp.
When Salazar was banned for four years by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in October for doping violations, Farah was reluctant to talk about his former coach, who is now appealing the ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“Had I had known the news, what Salazar did, it’s taken four years, had I known that sooner I would have been the first one out,” said Farah.
“That’s the bit that’s kind of annoying, I wish I’d known quicker. I haven’t been part of Salazar for the last two years.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency is to investigate athletes from the Oregon Project — which Nike closed down in October — and could retest past samples.
Farah, who achieved the 5,000 metres/10,000m Olympic double in 2012 and 2016, told the Daily Telegraph he feared nothing from having his previous samples retested.
“I don’t think there has ever been a problem for me,” he said.
“I am very honest, probably one of the most tested athletes. I am happy for all my tests to be retested and to use the samples.
“That’s all you can do.”
Farah, who is also a three-time world champion, said he could do nothing about there being a permanent cloud of doubt hanging over him because of his association with Salazar.
“I was out of that (Nike Oregon Project) two years ago,” he said.
“That is quite a while. I believe in hard work. There is no allegation against me. It just follows me.
“You have got to be honest with yourself — there is nothing that I would change.”
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