British distance running star Sir Mo Farah has split from controversial coach Alberto Salazar and announced he will return to London to work with Gary Lough, the husband and coach of women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe.
The four-time Olympic champion, however, has denied that the move has anything to do with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation into his former coach and the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) that he leads.
Sir Mo announced his departure from track racing after winning 10,000 metres gold medal and 5,000m silver at this year’s International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in London and will now focus on the marathon distance.
He plans to run next year’s Virgin London Marathon on April 22.
“I’m not leaving the Nike Oregon Project and Alberto Salazar because of the doping allegations,” the 34-year-old told The Sun.
“I’m leaving simply because my family and I are moving back to London.
“We want the kids to grow up in the UK.
“My decision to move back has nothing to do with UK Athletics, I’ve let them know of my change in coach but they don’t have a role in deciding who that is.
“I chose to work with Gary [Lough] over others because I’ve known him for a very long time – since I was 16 – and we get on well.”
An interim USADA report, compiled in March last year and hacked by Russian group Fancy Bears before being released in its entirety by the US athletics site FloTrack.com, claimed that “it appears highly likely” that anti-doping rules on the infusion of legal supplements – in this case L-carnitine – were broken in the case of Galen Rupp, another Salazar charge and a training partner of Sir Mo.
The same charge is levelled at other past or present NOP athletes Dathan Ritzenhein, Tara Erdmann, Lindsay Allen, Alvina Begay and Dawn Grunnagle.
Salazar, a former world record holder for the marathon, has repeatedly asserted that his athletes “have nothing to hide and are hiding nothing”.
Sir Mo has repeatedly insisted that he has “never broken the rules in regards to substances, methods or dosages” and that he will stand by Salazar until firm evidence appears.
“This situation has been going on for over two years,” Sir Mo told The Sun today.
“If I was going to leave because of that I would have done.
“As I’ve always said, I’m a firm believer in clean sport and I strongly believe that anyone who breaks the rules should be punished.
“If I had ever had any reason to doubt Alberto, I would not have stood by him all this time.”
Lough, a former British international 1500 m runner, married Radcliffe in 2001 and played a key role coaching the 2005 world champion to what remains the fastest ever women’s time of 2 hours 15min 25sec in 2003.
He lives in Monte Carlo, though, so it is not clear how close a role he will play in Sir Mo’s training.
Lough is expected to join him on an altitude training camp in Ethiopia early next year.