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Mo Farah refuses to condemn Alberto Salazar’s doping charges but instead pointing to media ‘agenda’ in his first public appearance

Sir Mo Farah is still running. He is running away from any notion that he might have played it differently, and quickly towards the idea that it has all been a media conspiracy.

In the function room of a Chicago hotel on Friday, he had a sufficient chance to take a deep breath, to offer a more considered view of the verdict that the mastermind of his success committed doping offences. He had a chance to put distance between himself and the dark cloud that has followed him for four years.

But no. In his first public appearance since the Alberto Salazar bomb dropped, he deflected and deferred and attacked. He kept to his old narratives, seemingly oblivious to how the ground under his feet has softened in the 11 days since his former coach was banned for four years.

He spoke of ‘allegations’ against Salazar, not the ruling of guilt established in two years of arbitration hearings; he spoke of sinister media ‘agendas’ against him; he spoke of it being Salazar’s fight and not his.

And somehow, he managed to sidestep the point repeatedly, which is that it was perhaps questionable to spend a further two years with Salazar after the BBC’s Panorama shone a light on the practices of the Nike Oregon Project in 2015.

But before all that – before discussing his decisions and before discussing Friday’s closure of the Oregon Project by Nike – he wanted to talk about running in Sunday’s Chicago Marathon. ‘I’m here to race,’ he said, over and again. ‘Let’s just ask five questions about the race before we come back to that.’

He always was ambitious. And on Friday, he was aggressive too, once he got on to the subject. ‘Let’s get on to it,’ he said. ‘To be honest it is very disappointing to see you guys going at it again and again.

The headline is Farah, Farah, Farah. There is no allegation against me. I’ve not done anything wrong. ‘Let’s be clear – these allegations are about Alberto Salazar and the Oregon Project. I feel let down by you guys, to be honest.’

But surely, he would feel more let down by Salazar, under whom he spent six years from 2011 and was transformed from a fringe contender into a winner of 10 straight global titles, including four Olympic gold medals? What followed was the first of numerous evasive answers.

‘If I tell you guys or talk to you guys and be nice to you, you’ll still be negative. Either way, I can’t win, you’ve already made up your mind about what you’re going to write.’ Another attempt: Mo, are you disappointed by Salazar, have you been tainted by association? ‘I am disappointed that you guys make it into the headlines,’ he said. ‘It is not about Mo Farah, it is about Alberto Salazar. I am not Alberto and only Alberto can answer that.’

Except Farah can answer. He can give a view on a coach who was found guilty of trafficking testosterone, of attempting to tamper with the doping control process, and administering a prohibited method of infusion. He can give the view of an athlete who has to live in the shade of a coach’s guilty verdict.

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