Mo Farah: Innocent until proven guilty

In the recent media obsession with the doping scandal and the Nike Oregon Project, the Daily Mail have revealed that Mo Farah missed two drugs tests prior to the London 2012 Olympics where he went on to win two gold medals. 

According to the report Farah missed two tests, the first occurring in 2010 before he joined Salazar’s team. The second missed test however took place at his home in 2011 when he failed to hear the doorbell. 

What many will not know, is that Farah came close to missing the Olympics on his home turf. UK anti-doping rules state that any athlete that misses three tests in 18 months can face a ban of up to two years. This same rule caused Christine Ohuruogu to be suspended for a year in 2006. 

A deterrent? 

More recently though, UK anti-doping have changed the rules on drug testing. Today, if an athlete misses three tests in a period of 12 months, they can face a ban of up to four years. 

The testing operates on a whereabouts system where the athlete must declare where they will be for one hour every day. This then allows the testers to turn up announced. 

“If you miss another test, they will hang you.”

Clearly concerned by Farah’s testing record, Salazar is reported to have said the above to Farah. Both were quite clearly worried about missing a third test and had a legal team attempt to appeal against the second incident. They did so without success. 

Arguably though, Farah probably would not have attempted to appeal against the decision if he was cheating. It would have most likely meant another drug test in the near future. 

With the London 2012 Olympics looming, it seems very unlikely that Farah would have put his chances at risk given his progress previous to it.

Mixed reception

Nevertheless, in light of the recent allegations, there has been a mixed reception in the athletics world. 

Michael Rimmer, an 800m runner posted his lengthy views on the test scandal on Twitter. He also revealed that he had also missed a few tests in his years of racing. 

Former Olympic heptathlete and sprinter, Kelly Sotherton condemned the British press for the way it was treating Mo Farah. On her Twitter she wrote “if true, show me the evidence. If not, stop ruining a life.” 

Craig Pickering also took to Twitter to quell the rumours and defend Farah. In a number of tweets, Pickering listed a few examples of how one might miss a test in order to show how easy it is; something which Sotherton was also arguing. 

The fact that Farah has allies in the athletics world is a positive sign. The media has found what appears to be a scandal and has played with it. There are little facts to be reported and instead journalists and the public are speculating. We need to allow time for Salazar and Farah to make a statement. Only then will we have more information to consider and scrutinize. 

Constant criticism

The damage to Farah’s reputation has already been done, unfortunately. The media have created a witch hunt for Farah and the public are participating in it. A simple search for Farah’s name on social media sites feature a number of critical tweets and posts. 

Like Sotherton has argued, there is no evidence of Farah cheating. Undoubtedly, the BBC investigation into Salazar and Rupp looks incredibly suspicious but the media and the public must remember that Farah was not directly part of these allegations. 

Unfair to Farah

Like in judicial law, the principal of innocent until proven guilty should be applied. Farah’s gold medals for me was one of the greatest moments of the London 2012 Olympics; I just hope that in my defense of him, I am not blinded by my memories. 

Until further proof arises though, the witch hunt for one of Team GB’s greatest runners must be called off. In 2011, nine UK athletes missed two tests, yet only Farah’s head is on a plate. 

Keep calm and carry on

Despite the media storm that seems to be brewing, Farah is preparing for his next race. He will compete at the Monaco Diamond League meeting in a month. It will be his first race since the allegations arose. 

For now, since there is no evidence and no answers, Farah is concentrating on getting his career back on track, away from the damaging words coming from the UK press, something which I applaud. 

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.