Usada grills Mo Farah on Alberto Salazar with British Athletics next

• Farah questioned about his coach for five hours on Saturday
• Neil Black and Barry Fudge set to be interviewed this week

Officials from the United States Anti-Doping Agency will speak to senior figures in British Athletics this week after questioning Mo Farah for five hours about his coach, Alberto Salazar, on Saturday morning.

Among those who are expected to be interviewed are the British Athletics performance director, Neil Black, and the organisation’s head of endurance, Barry Fudge, both of whom have worked closely with Salazar since Farah joined the Nike Oregon Project in the autumn of 2010.

Salazar was accused of a series of doping violations, including giving Farah’s training partner Galen Rupp the banned steroid testosterone as a 16-year-old, by a BBC Panorama documentary last month but issued a forceful 12,000-word riposte denying all charges. There are no suggestions that Farah, who the Guardian revealed last month would face questioning from Usada, has committed any wrongdoing.

In a pre-arranged meeting at London’s Grange Tower Bridge hotel Farah told the Usada investigator Bill Bock, who helped bring down Lance Armstrong, he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs. The British runner, who was flanked by his lawyers during the interview, also told Bock he would split from Salazar immediately if it was shown his coach was involved in doping.

A source close to Farah told the Guardian: “Mo has got nothing to hide and he has always been happy to talk to Usada. The meeting was arranged several weeks ago.” It is understood Usada officials were happy to accommodate Farah’s request to speak to them before he flew to his training camp in Font Romeu on Saturday afternoon, where he will put the finishing touches to his preparations for the world championships in Beijing next month.

Another source close to the investigation said Farah was “just one of many in British Athletics who would be talking to Usada over the coming days” and those figures will almost certainly include Black and Fudge. There is no suggestion either man has done anything wrong and they have always been open about the regard they hold for Salazar. Last month Black told reporters he went over to Portland to see Farah and Salazar “at least six times a year” as well as spending time with Salazar at training camps. Black also explained Fudge “has probably spent a year out of the last four years of his life living and working directly with Mo on a daily basis.”

Earlier this year Black praised Salazar as a “genius” and “one of the best people to work with that I have ever come across” and said that in the four years British Athletics had worked with him they had not had a falling out. “There are more than 10 different people, not just in the same country but across the Atlantic, involved,” he said. “An eight-hour time difference, five different training bases, constant variable travel and so on. But nobody has ever had a cross word.

“The reason why is to do with this: total trust, total belief, total respect. Alberto is so respectful of everyone else in the team, so knowledgeable of their contributions to the ultimate performance of the athlete that it becomes seamless. We have never had a challenge in all of the years we have been working together.”

British Athletics has refused to comment directly on the news Usada will be speaking to its staff but a spokeswoman said its independent review into the organisation’s relationship with Salazar would be reporting its findings and recommendations in early August.

Meanwhile Dina Asher-Smith, who delighted a capacity crowd at the Anniversary Games on Saturday by becoming the first British woman to break through the 11-second barrier for 100m, hopes there is more to come but is not sure whether she is on the radar of the top Americans and Jamaicans yet.

The 19-year-old, who ran a stunning 10.99sec in the heats before finishing fourth in the final in 11.06, said: “I don’t know if they are looking at me, but I hopefully I can go under 11 seconds again soon. I have stuff to work on in each race because there were good bits and bad bits in different places, which is a bit annoying. But hopefully I can improve and use the performances and experience to take myself further.”

Asher-Smith was also delighted that Dafne Schippers, who won the final with a Dutch record of 10.92, had shown that Europe could compete with the two powerhouses of sprinting. “I am so happy that a European athlete won – no offence to everybody else but I am a bit biased,” she said. “For so long it has been America and Jamaica and finally Dafne showed that European girls can sprint. We all knew that but she has really done it in the Diamond League so many times.”


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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