Alan Hubbard

I have absolutely no idea if Mo Farah is, or ever has been, on performance-enhancing drugs or whether his American coach Alberto Salazar has been systematically feeding them to his athletes.

So far there is not a shred of credible evidence to prove any such wrongdoing. Farah has certainty never failed a test even if he did fail to hear his doorbell ringing when the testers called.

Maybe it is just his ears that need testing.

Farah is certainly standing stoutly behind his man amid the whirlpool of innuendo so strenuously rebutted  by the controversial coach (and training partner Galen Rupp) who helped transform him from a club runner to a double Olympic and three times world champion.

If there is any doubt, both Farah and Salazar must have the benefit of it. Yet the phrase “No smoke without fire,” springs readily to the lips to those who question their veracity.

So, is it a case of a smoking gun, or more aptly perhaps a smoking starter’s pistol?

As I say, I honestly do not know. Neither does the public. But what concerns me is that I doubt the average punter actually cares.

Most fans. as well as the majority involved in athletics, believe it is simply a media witch- hunt instigated by the BBC with the Daily Mail and Guardian in hot pursuit.

Sometimes these campaigns simply fizzle out with allegations  unsubstantiated, unproven or stifled by lawsuits.

But equally sometimes they don’t, with Lance Armstrong and FIFA being prize examples of persistent investigative prowess, notably by The Sunday Times.

I recall how back, in the nineties, the award-winning exposures of widespread international doping scandals by Duncan Mackay, now insidethegames editor,were initially denied, even sneered at, by the authorities. But occasionally truth will out, as it did then, though not always, alas. 

Even more disturbing is the suspicion that fans doubt whether doping is such a heinous a crime, anyway. What turns on some athletes turns off the spectators, who find drugs issues a bit of a yawn and those who take dope characters rather than cheats.

British crowds greeted sprinter Dwain Chambers upon his return from a two-year doping ban
British crowds greeted sprinter Dwain Chambers upon his return from a two-year doping ban ©Getty Images

Remember when Dwain Chambers returned to track after his suspension to be given a standing ovation?

And there are no reports of anything less than a warm reception for American  Justin Gatlin, twice banned, in 2001 and 2008, for ingesting amphetamines and testosterone respectively.

He is now returning such astonishingly quick times for both the 100 and 200 metres that one must wonder whether the illegal boost he got from from being juiced up, albeit some years back, remains beneficial to his current form. 

I confess I am by nature a cynic. When you have been around major sport as long as I have it becomes endemic. Whatever the counter-arguments, cheats do prosper. Gatlin is testimony to that.

I wonder, too, if Armstrong ever wheeled his way back into cycling whether the crowds that line the Tour de France byways would greet him with opprobrium, or applause? More likely the latter, I fear.

My entrenched cynicism convinces me that the druggies always will be one pace ahead as sport increases its reliance on medical science in the effort to keep pushing the boundaries. I hope I am wrong.

There is even a school of thought that drugs-taking should be permitted in athletics as long as the substances were notified beforehand. Perhaps then, in the event of a doped athlete winning, the letters da  (ie drugs assisted) should be added after his or her name and any record deemed illegal, as in  in WA  (wind assisted).

Who knows, one day it may come to that.

I have told before of how, when Diane Modahl, a British athlete who seemed to epitomise all that was good in the sport, had failed a drugs test and was being sent home from the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, a visibily shocked Sebastian Coe sighed: “If Diane Modahl is on drugs then there is no hope for athletics.”

As it turned out Modahl eventually was exonerated but one wonders what hope there would be for the sport should superstar of Farah’s stature ever be found guilty using drugs.

Fortunately it may well be that tbe only substance Mo ever tests positive for is Quorn, the protein-packed meat substitute the debatable delights of which he seems to be promoting every time you switch on the box.

Mo Farah may not have been on anything stronger than the Quorn, the meat-free meals he advertises
Mo Farah may not have been on anything stronger than Quorn, the meat-free meals he advertises ©Quorn

What I do believe is that Farah, such a national hero in 2012, now needs to work harder at refurbishing his image at home - where he seems to be infrequently these days - to the shrug off any suspicion, howver unwarranted,  which  has enveloped him.

His prevarication over competing in the Commonwealth Games, pocketing a massive fee to run only half the London Marathon, and pulling out of the recent Birmingham meet caused some alienation, which is further risked by overlooking this weekend’s national trials to compete on the obviously more lucrative Diamond League circuit.

I suggest, too, it would also be good image-wise if Farah, as a high- profile Muslim athlete, spoke out against the atrocities being committed wrongly in name of Islam against the nation that adopted him and helped made him what he is.

Disappointingly few Muslim sports personalities have expressed their condemnation. I can think of only two ,the former Pakistan cricket idol turned politician Imran Khan and his British namesake Amir.

The Olympic silver medallist and former world boxing champion has  demonstrated  his courage and class outside the ring as well as in it by becoming one of the few high-profile Muslims to put his head above the parapet and declare his  outrage at the shameful acts committed by the extremist zealots who defile his religion.

The Khans are relatively isolated among sport’s Muslim community, though Muhammad Ali has always vehemently denounced Islamic extremism.

It would be good to hear similar sentiments from other Muslims such as Farah, boxing’s new Hall of Famer Naseem Hamed, and England Test cricketer Moeen Ali together with others prominent in football, basketball and squash. As Amir says, it could make a difference.

So how about it, Mo? It might take the heat off.

Meantime, the media seem set on continuing with the syringe between its teeth. 

This one, like Mo himself, will run and run.