Andy Vernon: Controversy reflects on Mo Farah

Andy Vernon, left, with Great Britain team-mate Mo Farah after winning European Championships 10,000m silver and gold medals last summer
Andy Vernon, left, with Great Britain team-mate Mo Farah after winning European Championships 10,000m silver and gold medals last summer
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Andy Vernon believes Mo Farah must re-evaluate his association with under-fire coach Alberto Salazar.

The American, who runs the Nike Oregon Project, has been caught up in a doping storm and is alleged to have given banned steroids to Galen Rupp – the USA athlete who finished second behind training partner Farah in the 10,000m at London 2012.

The claims were made in a BBC Panorama documentary, but Salazar and Rupp have denied any wrongdoing while there is no suggestion that Farah has broken any rules or taken illegal substances.

Fareham athlete Vernon, who took a silver medal behind his illustrious team-mate at the European Championships in Zurich last year, has had a fractious relationship with the double Olympic champion.

The pair had a public row played out via social media in February.

And the 29-year-old believes Farah has to accept that he will be caught up in the controversy by association.

Vernon said: ‘It’s not good for him (Farah).

‘Even though they were quite sure in saying that Mo has done nothing wrong, everything that is written is about Mo Farah’s training partner, his coach and training group.

‘He has chosen to have that association with a man who has not always had a good reputation so he has got to expect things like this.

‘I wouldn’t have got involved with him (Salazar) to start with.

‘But you’ve got to start questioning whether it’s worthwhile for him – it reflects on him.’

Vernon watched the documentary that has caused shockwaves in the sport and saw how an amateur athlete’s use of one banned substance improved performance by seven per cent but went completely undetected by drug testers.

‘I wouldn’t improve by seven per cent but even if I gained one or two per cent, over 5,000m I would be running 12min 55sec and my life would be considerably different,’ said Vernon.

‘That would put me in gold-medal contention, without a doubt – you can see why some take the risk.

‘You can serve a two-year ban and then come back.

‘You might get a few dodgy looks from other athletes but you would go back to that life again.

‘I haven’t ever been offered anything – I would be very surprised if someone approached an athlete.

‘If they did that to me, I would be looking to blow the whistle and passing on the information to the authorities.’

Vernon insists elite athletes had already heard the allegations that were broadcast and feels the media storm is good news in the battle to make the sport clean.

He said: ‘As athletes, it was nothing that we didn’t already know – it’s great for the general public to have their eyes opened.

‘Overall, it is negative media for the sport but drugs allegations and drugs scandals are nothing new.

‘Anything that cleans the sport up is good.’

Vernon has had his own suspicions about rival athletes in the past but insists it will not distract him from his own efforts.

He added: ‘I’ve been on a start line and thought “this isn’t a level playing field” – definitely.

‘But it’s probably not quite as bad as it used to be. If you start worrying about those sorts of things, you take the emphasis off your own job.

‘I am just trying to make myself the best I can be.’