Salazar drug allegations go further than Farah reputation

Mo Farah is one of the most likeable men in sport.

Always smiling, he has been one of the great athletics successes in recent years with two Olympic gold medals and three world titles.

But allegations involving his coach, Alberto Salazar have threatened to overshadow his preparations for the IAAF World Athletic Championships in Beijing later this summer.

Farah pulled out of the Birmingham Grand Prix last weekend after feeling emotionally drained at the accusations levelled at his coach and the shadow it has cast on his own reputation.

It hasn’t helped that Farah’s statement that he only knew about the investigation for a few days was contradicted by other reports.

On the one hand, Farah should be commended for not deserting the man who has helped him achieve such great success before anything has been proven.

On the other, Farah has said himself that his “reputation is being ruined” by the controversy and the fact that it prompted his withdrawal in Birmingham underlines the gravity of the situation.

While the World Athletics Championships is clearly important, Farah should seriously consider suspending his training regime with Salazar until the investigation has been concluded.

That course of action may feel difficult at any time, not least with a big competition coming up.

But Farah must think of his long term reputation and heed the advice of Ed Warner, the Chairman of UK Athletics which is overseeing its own investigation into Salazar’s activities and who suggested that Farah should distance himself from his coach for the time being.

Warner is correct that it is a “no-win situation” for Farah, who must himself be applauded for his consistent and strong views about lifetime bans for drug cheats.

But the wider issue here goes beyond Farah’s reputation and personal opinions.

Athletics has had its challenges in recent years and is working hard to convince a wider audience that the sport offers more than just the Olympic Games. 

That’s why sporting integrity matters and why the fight against doping and the role of the IOC Athletes’ Entourage Commission are so important for athletics and other sports.

UK Athletics should be applauded for their transparency and for the speed with which they have put their own review into the situation in place.

Fans want to see world class competition with athletes at their peak, and they don’t want to go home wondering if the winners were clean.

Farah said this week that he feels more "upbeat" as the dust has settled but it would still be wise to distance himself from his coach until the investigations into his alleged misconduct have been completed.

For the good of athletics as well as the benefit of Farah himself.