A defiant Alberto Salazar has insisted that he never misled Mo Farah while coaching the Briton to Olympic and world title glory during his seven years at the Nike Oregon Project.
The American coach, who plans to appeal against the four-year ban by the US Anti-Doping Agency, was responding to claims made by Farah during a fractious press conference to promote the Chicago marathon.
Farah said he had flown back to Portland to speak to Salazar after the BBC Panorama documentary had raised questions about whether the coach had violated anti-doping laws. “He assured me at the time these are just allegations,” Farah said. “And that hasn’t been true.”
However, Salazar told the New York Times that was not the case. “I’m sorry Mo feels that way but I’ve never lied to anyone about anything related to this investigation,” he said in an email. “Before even Usada brought this case, I made public my views regarding the allegations.”
Farah will be a big favourite to retain his Chicago Marathon title, and the hope among his team is that he will bounce back from his disappointing fifth in April’s London Marathon by beating his European record of 2:05:11.
“The marathon takes a while to learn and understand,” said Farah. “I was in great shape in London and looking to go low 2:04, but the wheels just came off with three miles to go. But each marathon you go into is always different and last year in Chicago was the best I have felt in all my marathons.”
Farah’s rivals include his former Nike Oregon Project teammate Galen Rupp, who, on Friday, was repeatedly asked about his relationship with Salazar, who is now banned from coaching the American runner.
“I haven’t had any contact, professional contact, sport-related contact with him since the announcement came out,” Rupp said.
That led some to question whether the American might be violating IAAF rules, which state that an athlete is not allowed to work with a banned coach otherwise they will be charged with prohibited association and face a two-year ban.
An IAAF spokesperson confirmed that personal contact was allowed provided it did not stray into coaching. Whether such a rule is enforceable, however, is another matter.
Meanwhile the women’s race will also be worth watching given that Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei intends to make a serious attempt on Paula Ratcliffe’s 2:15:25 world record if the forecast winds aren’t too strong.