Mo Farah launches 'astonishing' attack on British media
'I've achieved what I have achieved – you're trying to destroy it,' says British distance runner after farewell appearance
The world athletics championship ended on Sunday evening in the London Stadium with Team GB winning silver in the men's and women's 4x400m relay to take their final medal tally to six, sixth overall in the medal table with America way out in front with 30 medals, a third of which were gold.
But events on the track on the final day were overshadowed by what the Daily Telegraph described as Mo Farah's "astonishing" attack against sections of the British media for calling into questions his achievements.
The 34-year-old Briton, the only member of the Team GB squad to win an individual medal over the ten days of competition (a gold in the 10,000m and silver in Saturday's 5,000m final), won't be seen again on a British track after a glittering career that saw him win four Olympic gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Games. His final track appearance will be in the 5,000m Diamond League final in Zurich on 24 August before he turns his focus to marathon running, but Farah was clearly keen to settle a few scores when he faced the press on Sunday.
The reason for his anger was the ongoing controversy surrounding Alberto Salazar, Farah's American coach who has faced allegations in recent years that he violated anti-doping rules. Although Farah has never been implicated in any wrongdoing, in the eyes of some British journalists he is tainted by association, and that clearly rankles.
"It's like a broken record, repeating myself," said Farah, when the topic of Salazar was broached. "If I've crossed the line, if Alberto's crossed the line, why bring it up year after year, making it into headlines? I've achieved what I have achieved – you're trying to destroy it."
Farah, who finished second to the Ethiopian Muktar Edris in the 5,000m, then told the press that some of them "have been unfair to me". He continued: "The fact is I've achieved what I have from hard work. Putting my balls on the line, year after year and delivering for my country."
Pointing out that Salazar never accompanies him to races, Farah admitted that the continual sniping had affected him emotionally. "Sometimes I find it bizarre how certain people write certain things to suit how they want to sell the story. You guys get to me – you never write the facts. The fact is, over the years, I have achieved a lot through hard work and pain."
And his final message to the doubters and detractors was a terse challenge:"I want you to write the truth about what's out there and educate people out there. But be honest with them. If you say Mo Farah has done something wrong‚ prove it."
Having said his piece, Farah then reflected on his final appearance on a British track, and the disappointment of not going out with another gold medal. "All good things in life must come to an end at some point," he said. "What goes up must come back down. I wanted to end on a high. But it happens. The better man won on the day. That's part of athletics. Fair credit to the other guys to be able to go. They had three guys in the team – they said ‘one of you won't get a medal'. To beat Mo, it's taken them six years to do it but you've got to give it to them."