ANDY VERNON regrets that his Twitter row with Mo Farah has hit the headlines but insisted: I stand by what I said.
The Stubbington ace inadvertently touched a nerve on Tuesday night when he questioned the lack of high-level competition Great Britain team-mate Farah is to face on his season debut in the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham this Saturday.
A lengthy online row ensued in which Farah, who is the current Olympic, World and European champion in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres labelled Vernon ‘an embarrassment’.
But The News sports awards sportsman of the year, who is sidelined from competitive action following a hamstring tendon injury, played down the disagreement and furore it provoked, although maintained his opinion that Farah is given an easy ride by race organisers on home soil.
Vernon said: ‘It was one of those cases of saying what everyone was thinking.
‘There was no offence meant to Mo.
‘I said a comment that was quite justified and true and then he came back with some quite personal remarks and that was about it really.
‘Over the past five or six years there have been a lot of hand-picked fields when Mo has been running.
‘When Mo is in a home race we never really get to see a proper race.
‘It becomes the case that Mo goes out and wins by a straight or something like that against a load of Brits and a couple of Europeans.
‘They (race organisers) might put one or two Africans in just to make it look like there are some good people in there but actually they are really weak Africans that he is running against.
‘This weekend there is Bernard Lagat who is a good runner but he is 40 now.
‘As I said again on Twitter, it is no secret that it does happen.’
Vernon, who was second to Farah in the European Championships 10,000m final in Zurich last summer, has been annoyed by the media coverage the story has created.
But the 29-year-old has stopped short of seeking a resolution between himself and Farah, who is two years his senior, following the duo’s angry exchange.
He said: ‘There were eight tweets in total and I don’t know how it’s this massive story now – these things annoy me.
‘I know its Twitter and it is in the public eye, but for me it was just a simple tweet and there were a few tweets that came back and that was it really.
‘I don’t really speak to him an awful lot, we haven’t spoken (since).
‘I think for us it was just like, this I what I think and this is what you think.
‘That was it and it was done and it was over.’