Mo Farah gets back to work in the French Pyrennees after an extraordinary week of revelations and denials | Daily Mail Online
There is no shortage of sporting talent training in the town of Font Romeu in the French Pyrennees.
Genzebe Dibaba, one of the greatest distance runners on the planet and a household name in her native Ethiopia, is there at the moment, as are the entire Scotland rugby union team.
They all use the same six-lane track and infield but the photographers were interested in taking snaps of one man only.
Mo Farah had disappeared from public view for almost two weeks during which time Sportsmail revelations have intensified the crisis engulfing him and his coach Alberto Salazar.
But with his top off and shades on, Farah cut a relaxed figure seemingly putting his troubles to one side and getting back to work training at high altitude.
He comes to Font Romeu every year around this time and will remain here until the Monaco Diamond league on July 17, his first competition since a BBC documentary aired, alleging Salazar had been doping other athletes.
Farah, 31, Olympic and World 5,000metres and 10,000m champion, will race over 1500m in Monaco in the same stadium where he set a European record of 3min 28.81sec when he last raced over the shorter distance.
It will be a stern examination of how much the recent claims against Salazar and Sportsmail’s revelation that he missed two drug tests in the run-up to London 2012 have taken out of him.
But a bigger test looming is how Farah will react when Salazar makes public a dossier of ‘evidence’ which he promised will disprove the allegations made against him, among them that he plied another top athlete, Galen Rupp, with drugs when Rupp was still a schoolboy.
Salazar, who has communicated by text and email with selected journalists, is expected to break his silence before the USA World Championship trials which begin in Eugene, Oregon on Friday.
Although it remains to be seen how he will answer claims of malpractice to varying degrees from a total of 17 former athletes and staff members at the Nike Oregon Project training group he heads up.
Salazar has stayed in Oregon, along with a team of Nike lawyers, compiling emails, phone records and statements. In Font Romeu, Farah is accompanied by Barry Fudge, British Athletics’ head of endurance, who is said to be working on Salazar’s behalf, administering the training sessions he planned.
Meanwhile, it was confirmed Farah’s doorbell was rung several times over the course of an hour yet he still missed a test in 2011, after incurring a first strike for missing a test in 2010. UK Anti Doping’s legal director Graham Arthur told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme:
‘For an hour slot test the process is that the drug tester will turn up at the address given, ring the bell or knock on the door and try to get the athlete’s attention.
‘If there’s no response UKAD has detailed protocol that involves the doping control officer waiting for a period of 15 minutes, trying the bell or the knocker again, doing the same thing again after half an hour, then 45 minutes and then when the hour is up, the doping control officer completes his or her paperwork and then leaves the address.
'The athlete is advised by UKAD of the apparent missed test a few days later.’
Sportsmail spoke to one top British athlete who has gone to the trouble of getting a portable wireless doorbell through fear of missing the drugs testers.
The athlete told of the problems sometimes with people sleeping in altitude tents and hearing being muffled but ensured someone else was always at home if this was the case.
Over years of being tested on average once every six to eight weeks, the athlete has never failed a drugs test.
But former sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis, who missed two tests in 2007, said: ‘Mo’s a great guy, he’s a great athlete, he’s done the country proud.’
Lewis-Francis claimed his first missed test was down to the doorbell in his new rented flat not working and the second occurred when he forgot to inform UKAD of a change to his travel plans.
‘I take total blame for both of them,’ he said. ‘You’re responsible for making sure you’re available in your slot times.
Everybody makes mistakes but when you’re on two, you’ve got to sort yourself out because I didn’t want to get a ban.