When it comes to athletes and unlawful performance-enhancing substances — a.k.a. steroids, a.k.a. PEDs, a.k.a. doping — all it takes is a whiff of smoke for many fans and media to pull the fire alarm.
That is especially true in track and field, the sport perhaps most often associated with doping thanks to: (1) a long history of it, (2) famous doping cases like the ones involving Ben Johnson and Marion Jones, and (3) razor-thin margins between winning and losing that create a climate across the sport in which it’d be awfully tempting for any athlete to do whatever it takes to gain the slightest edge on the competition.
Mo Farah, the Muslim distance runner from Great Britain who is one of track’s biggest international superstars, has found himself facing suspicion of steroid use due to allegations levied against his coach, the decorated Cuban-American Alberto Salazar, who has been accused recently of violating anti-doping rules while training his athletes.
“As someone I’ve worked with for many years, I feel I have to believe in Alberto and the evidence he has provided,” Farah was quoted by BBC Sport this past week. “Based on that evidence, I’ll continue to work with him and hope now that I can focus on what I do best — training hard to win medals for my country.”
Farah won Olympic gold medals in the men’s 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races at the 2012 Summer Games in London, and repeated the feat at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. He is expected to defend his titles in both events at this summer’s World Championships in Beijing.
Salazar, 56, is a former Olympic distance runner who owns two United States championships in the 10,000 meters and a U.S. cross-country championship, as well as one Boston Marathon and three New York Marathon victories. He currently heads the Nike Oregon Project, a team of elite runners that includes Farah and seven-time U.S. 10,000-meter champion Galen Rupp, among others.