Mo Farah prepares for final US race while allegations swirl
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — As he prepares for what could be his final track race on U.S. soil, Mo Farah remains dogged by doping allegations surrounding his team.
The British Olympian will race in the 5,000 meters Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic, the only U.S. stop in the elite Diamond League series.
Farah has said that 2017 will be his last year on the track, with an eye on the World Championships in London this August. The 34-year-old plans to transition after that to marathons.
Farah defended his 5,000- and 10,000-meter titles at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last August, becoming the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth last December.
But at a news conference for the Prefontaine, Farah faced questions about allegations that paint his team, Nike’s Oregon Project, in a bad light.
Details have emerged from a 2016 report prepared by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on practices by the team, led by decorated U.S. marathoner Alberto Salazar. Allegations have also surfaced recently based on information obtained by the hacking group known as Fancy Bears.
“I just get sick of it, really, to be honest with you,” Farah said. “As an athlete you just want to do the best as you can, and that’s what I want to do. But it’s nothing new. It’s something the press likes to be able to twist it and add a little bit of spices and add stuff on it. Being an Olympic champion, four-time Olympic champion, you do get a lot of that stuff. But at the same time you just have to do the best that you can. I believe in clean sports.”
He said he has not read the USADA report that has shown up online.
“It’s nothing new. You tell me something new. Since 2011 it’s the same stuff,” Farah said, clearly exasperated. “It’s all right. That’s what you get being an Olympic champion, and what we do.”
Farah has been training for the past five months in Flagstaff, Arizona, for the outdoor season and his final bow at the Worlds. He hopes to run both of his signature races, the 5,000 and 10,000, if his body lets him, he said.
Saturday’s Prefontaine will be bittersweet.
“I don’t like to think like that, but it will be, my last,” he said. “It will probably be very emotional knowing that will be my last track racing in the U.S. But you know, tomorrow (I) just can’t be worrying about anything. I just have to concentrate on the race and getting the job done.”
Farah will be part of a stellar field that includes Paul Chelimo, the 5,000 silver medalist in Rio, and Kenyan Paul Tanui, the Rio silver medalist in the 10K.
Other top athletes competing in the weekend’s events include American sprinter Allyson Felix, who will run in the 200 on Saturday.
Felix, a six-time Olympic gold medalist and a nine-time world champion, spoke to a group of high school athletes Friday with Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson.
Like Farah, Felix said this season’s Pre is all about preparation for the Worlds.
“You always want to go out and do your best,” she told the young sprinters. “I’m going to go out there and see where I’m at.”
Celliphine Chespol of Kenya, who is just 18, won the women’s steeplechase Friday night in a meet record 8 minutes, 58.78 seconds. It was the third-best time ever in the world, and Chespol pulled it off despite adjusting her shoe during the race.
Gabriela Stafford of Canada won the 1,500 in 4:07.43 and American Charlene Lipsey won the 800 in 1:59.87. Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba won the 5,000 in 14:25.22.