LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 22 – Mo Farah says he has suffered “financially and emotionally” from his association with disgraced coach Alberto Salazar, who is banned from athletics for four years over doping violations.
The American coach, who is appealing against his sanction at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, led the Nike Oregon Project, which included British distance runner Farah among its stable of athletes between 2011 and 2017.
It was shut down after Salazar’s ban, imposed in October by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
Four-time Olympic champion Farah, said in January he would have ended the relationship with Salazar much sooner had he known the coach was facing a ban.
But, speaking to The Times, Farah, who will bid for a third successive 10,000-metres Olympic title in Tokyo this year, has suggested some sponsors have turned their back on him due to headlines highlighting his Salazar links.
He said: “If I wasn’t Mo Farah and I saw Mo Farah and I’m seeing these headlines, I’d question… yeah, I’d ask the same questions.
“I don’t want to go into any more detail but there’s been a lot of stuff, financially and emotionally, where I have suffered a lot.”
Farah added that he was left stunned by Salazar’s ban and that his decision to quit the Oregon Project in 2017 was not sparked by a tip-off.
“I didn’t have a clue,” said Farah adding that when news of the ban emerged, “for me it was like, wow, four years. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God’. I know I never did anything. I know he was my coach. But to put up with this year after year, it’s not you, it’s the coach, but it’s you it is aimed at, is quite frustrating.
“If I had realised there was going to be a problem, I would have been out (sooner). But I was faced with someone who had helped me in my career, to get me where I was, and you have the right to talk to him and look him in the eye.”
Prior to the sanction, Farah said the coach did his best to reassure him.
“He said they are just allegations made by people with grudges and ‘I promise you this will be proven’,” Farah said. “At that point you don’t want to think anything else, and you just want to carry on.
“He also hadn’t been found guilty. And it wasn’t just about me. As a single man I could have just said ‘move’. But I had four kids, three at school, my wife’s there, we’d bought a house. I’m not just going to say, ‘There’s been some allegations, we’re going.’”
Last week former UK Athletics chief Ed Warner said he tried to convince Farah to leave the coach in 2015 but the runner “was adamant he wanted to stay with Salazar.”
A BBC documentary will air on Monday that promises “fresh allegations” concerning Salazar.
Farah has never tested positive for any banned substance and is not accused of any wrongdoing.