Monday 18 December 2017

Mo Farah pictured running with Qatari drug cheat Hamza Driouch

Mo Farah pictured running with Hamza Driouch
Mo Farah pictured running with Hamza Driouch

Ben Bloom

Mo Farah has denied any knowledge of training with a convicted drugs cheat after he posted a photo appearing to show him running with banned doper Hamza Driouch.

Farah spent seven weeks training in Ethiopia at the start of the year before returning to competitive action when breaking the indoor two-mile record in Birmingham last weekend. He provided regular updates for his fans while training, posting action photos on Twitter throughout January and early February. One of those photos uploaded to Farah’s account on Jan 20 appears to show him being trailed closely by Driouch, the Qatari former world junior 1500 metres champion.

The International Association of Athletics Federations this week announced Driouch had been banned for two years for irregularities in his biological passport, with the sanction starting on Dec 31, 2014. The governing body’s rules state that banned athletes are prohibited from “participating in any capacity … in a training camp, exhibition or practice”.

While it can be difficult to ascertain whether someone is in formal training or not, the IAAF has confirmed it “always investigates evidence of alleged violations” of its rules.

Ricky Simms, Farah’s agent, confirmed to The Daily Telegraph that Farah had no knowledge of Driouch’s apparent presence in Ethiopia and he is not associated with any other athletes who may have been on the track at the same time as him. “Mo was in Ethiopia by himself,” said Simms. “He hired some local athletes to pace for him during his workouts and he wasn’t part of any other training group. It’s not unusual for people to jump in.”

There is no suggestion that Farah has been involved in doping or was in any way compliant if Driouch is investigated and found to have broken any IAAF rules.

Speaking last week about his decision to train in Ethiopia, Farah, who is usually based in Portland, Oregon, said: “Training has gone well. It’s just this time of year where Portland is really cold and here [Britain] is pretty cold, and you just want to try to get a block of training together. It’s something I’ve always done somewhere. This time I went to Ethiopia and it was really good.” Driouch and the Qatar Athletics Association did not respond to requests for comment.

Farah made headlines last week for an unsavoury Twitter spat with British team-mate Andy Vernon in which the London 2012 champion labelled his team-mate an “embarrassment”.

Explaining the source of the bad blood between the British pair, Somali-born Farah claimed Vernon last summer accused him of not being European – an assertion that Vernon denied.

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