RIO DE jANEIRO, Brazil, Aug 21 – Britain’s Mo Farah sought to distance himself from drugs-tainted Somali coach Jama Aden following victory in the Olympic 5,000m final in Rio.
The 33-year-old, who became the first man in 40 years to retain the two Olympic distance crowns on Saturday, denied being on close terms with Aden after being questioned about the two men’s relationship.
“He’s not a close friend of mine,” Farah told reporters. “Obviously I see him on the circuit and I say ‘hi.’ I respect everyone on the circuit. We all know each other and that’s it really.”
Aden previously worked as an “unofficial facilitator” for Farah before being arrested by Spanish police on doping charges earlier this year.
British athletics officials have insisted his role extended only to calling out lap times for Farah when the runner trained in Ethiopia in 2015.
But Farah faced questions about photographs of him with Aden in February at another training camp in Ethiopia after his gold medal run in Rio.
“As an athlete on the circuit, if somebody asks you to take a picture are you going to say no?” So many people come up to me,” said the Somali-born star.
“You can’t say no to everyone. He’s not a friend of mine, he’s someone I’ve seen on the circuit. I’ve been competing since I was 12 years old and you can’t lie about it,” added Farah.
“You see people, you see coaches and that’s all it is. I don’t know why you’re making a big deal about it.”
Aden, who trains Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, the 1,500m women’s world record holder, was arrested after dawn raids of several houses in Catalonia occupied by his training group in June.
Anabolic steroids and syringes were found, according to reports quoting the Catalan interior minister, while a Moroccan physiotherapist was also arrested and charged.
But Farah, whose coach Alberto Salazar has been the subject of doping suspicion, stressed there was no connection between himself and Aden.
“If he’s my coach or someone I’m close with then fair enough, but I’m not close with him,” said Farah. “I see him on the circuit and take a picture with him, does that make me a bad guy? I’ve taken selfies with other people too.”