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Ex-UK Athletics Chief Had 'Advised Mo Farah to Leave Alberto Salazar in 2015'

File photo of Mo Farah. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

File photo of Mo Farah. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Former UK athletics chairman Ed Warner said he had visited Mo Farah in 2015 asking him if he 'wanted to take the risk' of staying with Alberto Salazar.

London: Former UK Athletics chief Ed Warner says he tried to convince Mo Farah to leave now-disgraced Alberto Salazar in 2015, four years before the Olympic champion's former coach was banned for doping violations.

Salazar was banned for four years by the US Anti-Doping Agency in October but is appealing the ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Britain's Farah, who will bid for a third successive 10,000-metres Olympic title in Tokyo this year, said last month he would have left Salazar sooner had he know about illegal activity at the Nike Oregon Project, which has since been shut down.

Former UK Athletics (UKA) chairman Warner said he visited Farah after the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, where he won 5,000m and 10,000m gold, to ask if he "wanted to take the risk" of staying with Salazar.

Warner, who left UKA in 2017, told the BBC: "I would have loved Mo to walk away. He was adamant he wasn't going to change his coach."

The investigation into Salazar began after a BBC Panorama programme in 2015.

Fresh allegations about the 61-year-old American coach will be made in a new BBC Panorama on Monday.

Farah, 36, has never tested positive for drugs.

UKA launched a review following allegations made in the original programme. The governing body said its investigation had not given it "any reason to question the appropriateness of the input" given by the Nike Oregon Project to Farah's training regime.

Warner said UK Athletics faced "very difficult circumstances" when the first Panorama programme on Salazar aired.

"We came out with maybe the least worst outcome. But the best outcome actually would have been Mo saying: 'Do you know what? I won't take the risk.'

"I personally tried to persuade him to change coach. I met him the day after the Beijing World Championships ended.

"I talked him through the board's thinking at the time around the whole Oregon Project and his position within it, and I had one last go at saying to him: 'Are you sure you want to take that risk?'

"He was adamant he wanted to stay with Salazar, so everything else fell into place behind that."

first published:February 21, 2020, 18:54 IST