Anorak | Pray for Mo Farah: the doorbell tolls for thee

Pray for Mo Farah: the doorbell tolls for thee

by | 19th, June 2015

mo farah dope


The Times says Mo Farah, the London 2012 Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres gold medal-winner, has hired Freud’s, “one of the world’s biggest PR companies”. It won’t make him run any faster, but it could keep him in delicious, performance enhancing (it says here) Quorn.

Farah’s named is being sullied because Alberto Salazar, his American coach, has been accused of breaking anti-doping rules. Farah and Salazar deny any wrongdoing.

Mo’s innocent. But the story of his innocence is a messy one.

Farah could have faced a ban for avoiding drug testers had UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) not believed his claim that he did not hear the doorbell when they called at his home in Teddington, southwest London, in 2011. The test was the second that Farah had missed in the run-up to the London Olympics, having missed another in 2010. Three missed tests within an 18-month period, at the time, would have resulted in a ban. Farah had claimed that he was in his bedroom and could not hear the doorbell, but had the testers believed that he was deliberately not answering the door, UKAD could have charged him with evading a test, the penalty for which would have been an immediate suspension

But they could not. Is Mo hard of hearing? Was the radio on? The Mail says the testers rang Farah’s door “for an hour”. Did they also call his phone? Poke him on Facebook?

Also in the Mail , the headline above Martin Samuel’s article oozes:

Nation must hope and pray that Mo Farah’s only error is being absent-minded

Oh, what balls. #prayformo is not trending on twitter. Samuel says it’s not a case of knocking a man when he’s up. But this is the same Daily Mail , which when Farah had a twitter spat with athlete Andy Vernon asked if it was the moment when the “mask finally slipped”.  The inference was clear: Farah was a fake. And as Rick Broadbent notes in the Times, M o’s PR is not as good as his PBs:

He [Farah] refused to speak to the Daily Mail after it ran a story on his family, and incurred the incredulity of all media when he said they would have to buy his forthcoming book to find out the names of his newborn twins.

So much for the PR. Now Graham Arthur, UKAD’s director of legal, will explain the rules:

“A missed test doesn’t mean someone has deliberately not opened the door or has hidden in the bathroom for an hour. If we thought that had happened, we would take action against them for evasion and ban them from trying to hide from the testers. If we are satisfied that they have just been negligent and not wilful, they get a missed test. If we felt someone was there and just deliberately avoided the testers by not answering the door, we would take action. Those cases are going to be difficult to prove, because the standard of proof that we are bound to is pretty high. But if we have evidence that somebody is trying to evade, we take action.”

Farah’s innocent, then. Clear. But here’s Samuel, his hands pressed together in prayer:

The world of athletics was lining up to explain how easy it is to miss a drugs test. Doesn’t make you a cheat, they said. Doesn’t mean you dope. And of course it doesn’t. Then again, it doesn’t make you innocent either.

Wrong. The rules have been explained to us all.

That’s the problem with a miss. You never know. Nothing can be presumed. That’s why the athletics authorities take it so seriously.

The myth is that a missed test is common. It suits those who miss to say that. But it isn’t. In 2010, for instance, there were 394 athletes in the National Registered Testing Pool. They would each be tested three times a year minimum, and as many as nine times maximum. Let’s allow for a conservative ball park average of five tests per individual. So that works out as 1,970 NRTP tests a year. And how many were missed? Just 43. So this isn’t something that happens to many athletes once, let alone twice. This isn’t routine.

Just 43. Just. But none of that matters because

You have already read 1 premium article for free today
Access immediately the premium content with Multipass

Or come back tomorrow

Posted: 19th, June 2015 | In: News, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink