Mo Farah allegedly tells team-mate Andy Vernon to 'f*** off' as spat between two reignites
Published 10/07/2015 | 14:37
No sooner had Mo Farah made the most emphatic of triumphant returns with a stunning 5,000 metres victory than he found himself at the heart of yet another controversy – this one of his own making.
Preparing for an interview on the track immediately after the race Farah was approached by his team-mate Andy Vernon, who was offering an olive branch after an ugly spat earlier this year.
Visibly turning his back and snubbing Vernon in clear view of all 15,000 spectators, Farah allegedly told his fellow Briton to “f--- off”.
“I went to shake his hand and he turned his back on me and told me to f--- off,” explained Vernon. “I wanted to bury the hatchet, I’m going up to [Farah’s training base] Font-Romeu in a few days’ time and I just wanted to end it.
“I don’t know why we can’t just forget about it. He’s done a lot worse to me than I’ve done to him and to not even be a sportsman and shake my hand I think is pretty disgraceful to be honest.
“With all the bad publicity he’s getting at the moment I would have thought he would try to actually make a good name for himself again but by doing that it’s not too good for him.”
The bitter rivalry between Britain’s two leading middle-distance runners began in February when the pair became embroiled in a petty argument on Twitter that saw them trade insults over their respective athletic ability.
The spat then took a nasty turn when Farah accused Vernon of making a comment that suggested the Somali-born athlete was not the rightful European champion.
Lol @Mo_Farah I think even you can work out that I can make the cut to the Indoor Grand Prix. Lets hope no one loses their shoe...— Andy Vernon (@AndyVernonGB) February 17, 2015
Vernon has recently spoken of looking to get back on friendly terms with his team-mate.
When asked whether there had been a problem between him and Vernon in Lausanne, Farah hurried away from the assembled journalists, saying: “I don’t know, not that I saw.”
Farah then refused to acknowledge any further questions as he rapidly exited the area.
“I’m glad people saw it,” said Vernon of Farah’s snub. “Whether we’re friends or not, I can appreciate a good performance and that he won today so I’d like to congratulate him but I get that reaction. If he’s not going to shake my hand I can’t do much more.”
The latest episode could barely be worse timed after five weeks during which Farah claims his reputation has been “dragged through the mud” thanks to doping allegations made against his coach Alberto Salazar.
The Briton has pleaded to be allowed to focus on his running after sticking by Salazar and his fist-pumping celebrations as he crossed the line in Lausanne made it clear how much victory meant to him.
Waving as he was introduced to the crowd in his Nike Oregon Project training top at the start of the evening, any fears that events of the past few weeks would affect his popularity were dismissed by the cheers that greeted his named.
After a quick ‘Mobot’ on the start line, Farah quickly settled into his favoured position near the front of the pack, close enough to react to any sudden move but sufficiently nestled in to avoid the hard graft.
With three laps to go he decided to take charge at the head of the field, but thoughts that victory would be a simple task were tempered by the lanky presence of 17-year-old Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha on his shoulder.
When Kejelcha kicked with 250 metres remaining it looked as though Farah would have to settle for second but the Briton has not won two Olympic and three world titles without grit and he fought back to pass the teenager on the home straight to triumph in 13 min 11.77 sec, with Vernon 15th.
“As an athlete you just have to do what you best,” said Farah. “The last couple of weeks have been hard for my family and everyone else. But what can you do? You just want to run and that’s what I did and I enjoyed it.”
Farah’s post-race actions overshadowed a historic night for Britain, with Anguilla-born Zharnel Hughes becoming the first British runner ever to win a Diamond League sprint event just two weeks after pledging allegiance to his new country.
Fresh from claiming the British 200m title in Birmingham last weekend, the 19-year-old burst off the bend to clock a personal best 20.13 sec and put him firmly in contention for a medal at next month’s World Championships.
Justin Gatlin was just one-hundredth of a second off his personal best as he claimed 100m victory in a rapid 9.75 sec, with Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay both registering 9.92 sec for second and third.