'Drained' Farah loses more face with late withdrawal
The Birmingham Diamond League was supposed to be the "Mo Show", instead it was a no-show as Britain's under-fire athlete flew back to the United States at the crack of dawn.
Farah was due to be paid an estimated £75,000 to run three and three-quarter laps of the track here, but instead departed Birmingham Airport at 6am via Amsterdam to return to his home in Portland, Oregon. As a result, he will not earn a penny, blaming emotional exhaustion on his early exit following a week of being under fire on account of doping allegations against his coach Alberto Salazar and training partner Galen Rupp.
Farah withdrew late on Saturday night and attempts by event organisers to dissuade him fell on deaf ears. He was already in the skies as spectators who had paid to see the double Olympic, World and European champion woke up to the news the Londoner would not appear in the planned event climax, the 1500 metres.
"This week has been very stressful and taken a lot out of me," he said. "I have not been able to focus properly on today's race and, after the events of the last few days, feel emotionally and physically drained.
"I want to run well in the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing and have decided it is better for me to go back to the US, seek answers to my questions and get back into training. I apologised to the people who bought tickets to come and watch me and ask for your understanding at this time."
It was another public relations disaster for UK Athletics, who refused to put forward either chief executive Niels de Vos, bar a solitary BBC interview, nor performance director Neil Black to answer questions on the fall-out from Wednesday night's BBC Panorama investigation.
Questions remain unanswered over the body on its due diligence process of encouraging Farah to join Salazar's training camp when question marks already existed over the American having previously coached the middle-distance runner Mary Slaney when she failed a drugs test and was later banned.
Salazar is expected to make a lengthy statement in the next two days to answer the wide-ranging allegations made against him, until which UKA say they will not make any further statement.
The sentiments of Farah's GB team-mates Andy Vernon and Richard Kilty - both of whom were critical of the Londoner's decision - were echoed by former athletes Steve Cram and Paula Radcliffe, both of whom are close to Farah.
Radcliffe said an appearance would have helped show people "100 per cent that these allegations are unfounded", while Cram added: "He should have been here today and he could have moved the story on by getting back to the athletics. He would have been more loved and it would have been the right thing to do."
The frustration from paying fans was palpable. Ian Briggs, from Market Harborough, had paid £50 each for his tickets.
"You don't go to a rugby match and see one of the teams pull out, for this event you're coming to see individuals compete," he said. "It's strange he's pulled out. It would have been better for him to be here to compete and show his face rather than run back to America and sort it out with his coach." (© Daily Telegraph, London)