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Fellow athletes put Mo Farah’s “missed drugs tests” into context

Fellow athletes put Mo Farah’s “missed drugs tests” into context

As claims surface about the double Olympic champion reportedly having missed two doping tests in 2010/11, other athletes share their thoughts on the topic

Reports that Mo Farah missed two drugs tests in the years leading up to the London 2012 Olympic Games have prompted much discussion on social media, with other current and former athletes among those sharing their thoughts on the topic of missed tests.

On Wednesday the Daily Mail published claims that a first missed test by Farah “appears to have occurred in early 2010”. The second test is reported to have been missed in 2011. At that time, the anti-doping rule was that an athlete who missed three tests in an 18-month period could face a ban. That time frame has since been reduced from 18 months to 12 months.

Farah has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, following the doping allegations made against his coach, Alberto Salazar. A BBC and ProPublica investigation put Salazar at the centre of doping claims, including that he was involved in doping US 10,000m record-holder Galen Rupp in 2002 when Rupp was 16 years old.

Both Salazar and Rupp have denied any wrongdoing, while there is no suggestion that Farah has violated any rules. Farah’s links to Salazar mean he has been hitting the headlines regularly recently though, with UK Athletics also releasing details of a review of the performance-management system surrounding Farah.

Matt Lawton’s report for the Daily Mail claims that the first test appears to have been missed before Farah joined Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project. The second test is reported to have been missed in 2011, after Farah started working with the American coach. The Daily Mail reports that Farah appealed that second missed test to UK Anti-Doping, claiming that he did not hear his doorbell. That appeal is said to have been unsuccessful.

If those missed test claims are correct, one more missed test or “whereabouts failure” could have led to a ban which might have put an end to Farah’s hopes of competing at the 2012 Olympics.

However, missing two tests does not violate the rules, and the fact that Farah is again in the news because of claims he missed two tests has prompted much reaction on social media.

Former sprinter Craig Pickering, who is now a speed and performance consultant coach and an active blogger, wrote on Twitter: “Five years ago, an athlete missed a drugs test. Only now is this non-news, news. Plenty of athletes miss tests.”

He added: “Missing a test does not equal taking drugs.

“I’m not condoning athletes missing tests. They should be organised. I’ve never missed a test. But it happens, and it doesn’t mean doping.”

Pickering went on to give an example of how easy it might be to miss a test. “Here’s a real life example of my almost missing a test,” he wrote. “My testing slot was 7-8am every day, at home, because I usually woke up at 8 so knew I’d be at home. One day I had to be at Uni for an exam at 8.15am. Planned to leave at 7.15am. In the stress of the exam, forgot my testing slot. Just caught the tester as I was leaving!”

Andy Turner, who last year retired from athletics following his career as a sprint hurdler, tweeted: “The media clearly after mo’s blood (literally too). It’s very easy to miss a test so I’m not reading anything into this.”

Former heptathlete Kelly Sotherton wrote: “All these people who think it’s easy not to miss tests. You do it for a year and see how you get on. It’s not as easy as you all suggest.”

While Michael Rimmer, the 2010 European 800m silver medallist, published a comment via Twitter admitting he had missed tests in the past.

“My own personal take on the ‘missed tests’ debate that seems to be getting a little out of hand.. IMO,” he tweeted, attaching pictures of a lengthier comment. That comment read in part: “To the general public. Imagine being told that somebody will knock on your door between the exact hours of 7am-8am and they will randomly come and check you’re recycling properly. If you’re not in when somebody comes to check you’ll get a £50 fine. These checks could happen once a week or it could only happen once every SIX months..!! Are you honestly telling me that over the days and weeks, even months at a time of that door not knocking it may on occasion not slip your mind..!?

“You may have an urgent call about a family bereavement, or been out for a nice meal and stayed at a partners house instead of driving home the night before.

“Something that happens so infrequently and is not ‘routine’ can’t be expected to be at the forefront of anyones mind, particularly if it sometimes doesn’t happen for up to six months at a time!! Which has been the case for me. It’s unrealistic.”

He added: “I have admittedly missed tests in the past. Not because I’m remotely in any shape or form trying to ‘dodge’ a tester but because of the points made above.”

In response, ultra runner Paul Martelletti wrote: “missing recycling police & getting £50 fine is not the same as missing drug testers, esp. when part of the job!”

European and Commonwealth 800m silver medallist Lynsey Sharp was another to explain a missed test story on Twitter. “yes I have one,” she said in reply to a question about whether she had ever missed tests herself. “Because last minute I went to Edinburgh on Thurs night instead of Fri morning as planned and forgot to change my address for 1 hour slot. So easily done when out of 365 days they come apprx 3 times. now I have an alarm set for 10pm every night to remind me to check my whereabouts are correct.”

Comments on the topic were mixed, and Aldershot, Farnham & District runner Natasha Doel, who is engaged to Andy Vernon – the British athlete who won European 10,000m silver and 5000m bronze in races won by Farah in Zurich last summer – wrote: “There are no excuses for missing a drug test let alone missing two!”

Farah and his agent Ricky Simms are reported to have not responded to questions sent by the Daily Mail seeking explanation for the two alleged missed tests.

Having withdrawn from the Birmingham Diamond League meeting on June 7 saying he was “emotionally and physically drained” and would be returning to the US to seek answers to his questions, Farah on Wednesday revealed on Twitter that his next race would be in Monaco. The Herculis meeting takes place on July 17.

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