© Copyright – 2017 – Athletics Illustrated

Unless you have been dwelling in the caves of the Afghanistan hills, cut off from the so-called civilized world, like Osama Bin Laden on the run, you should know that Mo Farah, the four-time Olympic and six-time IAAF World Track and Field Championships gold medallist has split with his coach Alberto Salazar of the Nike Oregon Project.  Or has he?

Farah announced the split, while several news outlets quoted Salazar as saying he is still available to advise.

After six years in Oregon, Farah is moving back to London with his family, therefore ending his coach-athlete relationship with Salazar.

Since 2011, the two often made the news with Farah taking British and European track records and winning medals at global championships, while Salazar coached a rich cache of talented athletes, although his apparent turnover rate is alarming.

Former Salazar athletes include Adam Goucher, Kara Goucher, Alan Webb, Ciarán Ó Lionáird, Luke Puskedra, Cam Levins, Chad Johnson, Mary Cain, Dathan Ritzenhein, Treniere Moser, Karl Keska, Philemon Hanneck, Mike Donnelly, Tara Welling, Dan Browne, Amy Begley and Josh Rohatinsky, to name just a few. He also worked with scientist and coach Steve Magness. He apparently denies, but apparently coached Mary Decker Slaney and had closely associated himself with the famous and perhaps most diabolical drug cheat of all-time cyclist Lance Armstrong.

In fairness, some of those athletes were let go by Nike, likely to do with not performing well enough to live up to their athlete agreement, while others retired; however, Mary Cain’s departure remains a mystery. Some athletes have come back to testify in the media against their former coach including the Gouchers and Magness.

Farah and Salazar have been suspected to be associated with performance-enhancing drug use, despite there being no official charges laid or smoking gun found. No one can firmly pin evidence against either. A multi-year investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency continues.

Farah will be returning to England and will be coached by Gary Lough, famous for coaching current women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, who ran the marathon as fast as 2:15:25 14 years ago – a record that stands today. Lough is married to Radcliffe. He was a promising middle-distance runner in the 1500-metre event. He competed in the world championships; however, Lough put his running career on the backburner while he coached Radcliffe – the plan paid off. She turned out to be one of the most successful distance athletes in history.

This isn’t the first time that Farah has switched coaches. He has been coached by no less than Charles Van Commenee, Alan Storey, Alan Watkinson, Ian Stewart, Alberto Salazar and now moves onto Lough.

Apparently, Storey is back coaching, however, is not associated with Nike, while Lough is or has been. Is there a connection, here? Storey, formerly the UK’s high-performance coach left in 2009 after 30 years of involvement with the governing body. No reason was given for his departure.

Storey is known for having had high success coaching Irish great Sonia O’Sullivan.

Why would Farah choose Lough over Storey, someone who he has worked with in the past?

Farah told the Sun newspaper that he thought of Lough immediately as he has known him since he was 16-years-old.

Farah will now turn his attention to the roads and his attempt to take down his own personal best in the marathon of 2:08:21. The first effort for the 34-year-old will be London 2018.

Farah’s legacy on the track is set as he is considered one of the all-time greats.  His personal bests over 5,000m and 10,000m are 12:53.11 and 26:46.57 respectively, certainly outstanding performances to be sure.

Amid allegations of doping, Farah has defended Coach Salazar who is currently under investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). No charges have been pressed, despite rumours and allegations made by former athletes and employees who have worked with Salazar.

Farah has not tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs at any time, however, he has been affiliated with two coaches that have had allegations made against them. For example, Somali, Jama Aden, who coaches many top-level athletes including two of the famous Dibaba sisters of Ethiopia, was arrested in Spain after a period of police surveillance.

The bust came after a month-long 24-hour observation by the Catalan Police Force while he was staying at a hotel in Sabadell, Spain. Twenty of the 22 athletes that were on-hand were immediately drug tested.

Currently, he is a free man.

And then there is Salazar and company.

One former British athlete said, “Farah would be crazy to be seen anywhere near Aden.”

Farah told the UK’s Sun newspaper, “I’m not leaving the Nike Oregon Project and Alberto Salazar because of the doping allegations.

I’m leaving simply because my family and I are moving back to London. We all loved spending our summer here (in London) and Tania and I realised how much we have missed spending time with our friends and family – and the kids are so happy here, too.

We want the kids to grow up in the UK. It’s the right thing to do for my family. But both Nike Oregon Project and Alberto are based in the USA, so it just would not be possible to continue our relationship from London.”

However, Lough is based in Monaco, not London.

Farah owns an incredible range of personal bests from 1500-metres to the half-marathon. He has run the 1500 in 3:28.81 fast for a 5,000m and 10,000m specialist. It is fast for any athlete and was the sixth-fastest performance in history when he set it as well as a new European record.

His half-marathon best is a world-class 59:22. The world record is 58:23.

Perhaps moving to Lough and home to London is about doing what’s best for the family as well as his marathon potential.

Nothing would speak louder brand-wise for the Mobot enterprise than to add a Virgin London Marathon win or a British record to his legacy to seal his fate as one of the UK’s most successful distance running athletes, all-time, right alongside Radcliffe.

One wonders how the very famous Brit will be training in and around London up to and over 162 kilometres per week, undisturbed. The thought begs the question, is the move really about his family or is it more about distancing himself from Salazar and the USADA investigation?

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