Friday, 04 August 2017 08:18

Neil Black: I have looked Mo Farah in the eye and I’m convinced he is not a cheat

Written by Guardian
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The head of UK Athletics says he has stared into the eyes of Mo Farah and his coach, Alberto Salazar, and knows they are not cheats. Neil Black, the UK Athletics performance director, also insisted he had seen nothing in the leaked 329‑page interim report by the United States Anti‑Doping Agency into Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project training group that had caused him any alarm. “The report didn’t concern me, having known, spoken to, questioned and looked people in the eye,” Black said. “There was nothing in the leaked report which was a surprise or a shock to me. But it concerns me things get leaked, concerns me things can be and are written in a way which can make things appear bad.”

The Usada report alleges Salazar abused prescription medicines and used prohibited infusions to boost testosterone levels of his athletes. It also claimed UK Athletics ignored the warnings from one of their doctors that Farah was receiving potentially harmful treatments from his coach shortly after he moved to the US to join Salazar’s training group in late 2010. Usada’s investigation continues but Farah and Salazar have always vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Black insisted that having known Farah since he was 15 and Salazar properly since 2010, he was confident everything they were doing was completely above board.

In the past year Farah has also faced questions about his friendship with the controversial Somali coach Jama Aden, and has been suggested as a “likely doper” in a leaked IAAF report into his athlete biological passport – a verdict that was later reversed. But Black said that those with concerns over Britain’s leading athlete were making a simple mistake.

“It is very easy for people to fall into the trap of seeking fault and blame – talking negatively and building this picture,” he said. “It seems to be a natural human trait that we make something into something else, we add two and two and get whatever. I understand that, Therefore I don’t misunderstand people who feel differently.”

Black was addressing questions about Farah because the double Olympic champion is refusing to speak to the British print media until after the 10,000m final. However it seemed a missed opportunity given that while Black was talking at British House in Tobacco Dock, Farah was yards away at Nike House collecting his race spikes.

The 87-strong British team have been set an ambitious target of six to eight medals by UK Sport for the world championships in London – a figure that appears tough given key figures such as Adam Gemili and Dina Asher-Smith have been injured for much of the reason.

Black claimed the target was achievable if the team could cope with the expectation of a home championships and received a bit of luck. “If we don’t deal with the pressure well, and we don’t get a bit of luck, then we might get a kick in the backside,” he said.

Meanwhile Martyn Rooney, the European 400m champion, urged his team‑mates to learn from his experience at London 2012. “It was an amazing experience,” he said. “I know what’s coming, it’s going to be a wall of noise, I’ve been making the point to as many of the team as possible you have to accept that’s going to happen, you have to accept it will be intimidating, but you have to use it. I’m excited about that.”

WATCH: NEIL BLACK GETS GRILLED ABOUT MO FARAH - IAAF World Championships Press Conference


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