12 Jun What ‘checks’ did UKA actually do on Salazar?

So, now it seems that maybe, possibly, Eightlane and numerous other outlets had a point when being concerned at Alberto Salazar’s appointment by UK Athletics in 2013.

People who study the grief cycle will recognise this as the beginnings of stage two of the grief cycle. First, we had the denials (never coached Slaney, sure that there’s nothing in it, Mo isn’t guilty anyway etc.) Get ready for the anger phase up next over the weekend – my prediction would be in a Sunday newspaper, some UKA bod will be wielded out to be publicly really pissed off with AlSal for lying. They will immediately place the whole arrangement under review, blah blah blah.

Following a lengthy period of anger, various UKA executives will enter a period of intense bargaining (most likely of their exit packages) in order to ‘restore confidence in athletics’. Anybody attempting such a task is highly likely to be plunged into a deep and long lasting depression (co-incidentally, Stage 4) before ultimately coming out the other side accepting that it probably wasn’t our fault anyway.

We saw a similar cycle to the (totally different) situation when UKA suddenly realised that sending Dwain Chambers (a young and impressionable 21 year-old) to coaches with a chequered past wasn’t such a great idea. Of course, in this instance, there is no suggestion that Farah has engaged in any illegality.

I jest, but this column does have a serious point. What on earth did British Athletics (or whatever they call themselves) check about Salazar? I honestly wonder whether it was the name change that threw them, with Alberto promising that he never coached anyone named Slaney. He did look after this lass called Decker once but that was irrelevant.

Of course, AlSal’s word on matters such as this has been shown in the past to be of about as much value as a Greek politician’s promise to repay a debt. We have those awkward pictures of him ‘not coaching’ Lance Armstrong and – since being coached by him – Mo has been caught out by beastly pictures showing him doing something he promised that he wasn’t doing. The Farah camp’s response to these most recent accusations has been shown to be based on a lie, with Mo (who seemed to be inexplicably angry and confused as to why he was being dragged into all this) stating he had only heard of the allegation ‘three or four days’ prior to the Panorama film being aired.

What a mess. And for those of you that have wondered out loud (or on social media) whether Eightlane are being too smug and too vocal about this, I have some sympathy. It isn’t the fact that the sportspeople we ‘admire’ are being shown up to be not quite as perfect as we think they are. We are more angry at the ‘shock’ the rest of the press have about allegations we have been banging on about for years. The hypocrisy in this sport is utterly mind blowing. Don’t expect things to improve either.

We have the full revelations of the German investigation into Russian doping and the ‘household name’ British athlete implicated in that to come out yet. If the name that Eightlane has heard from a number of reliable sources is accurate (and we think it is, but have mortgages to pay and zero appetite for a protracted legal battle), then the world of athletics (and indeed clean competition) will be brought to its knees in a fashion not seen since Ben Johnson and all that happened in 1988. And we mean that.

In all this darkness, let’s end on a positive note. Eightlane favourite Andy Vernon showed what a classy operator he is in Birmingham the weekend just gone. Every journalist was busy asking him about anything but his (albeit forgettable) race. He had time for each and every one of them (including five minutes for Eightlane – and it was observed that colleagues next to us pilfered the majority of our questioning). With a smile on his face, he started his warm down some two hours after his race. Should such behaviour be remarkable? I don’t know, but unfortunately it is.

Elsewhere, nice to see Greg Rutherford doing so well – showing once again that his 2012 title was no fluke. Both Rutherford and Vernon are examples of athletes who are prepared not to toe the dull and drab party line and actually say what they think.

I, for one, wish there were more like them out there rather than the Farahs of this world regurgitating fiction only to be caught out by reality.

  • John Bicourt

    James be careful of the pot, black, kettle, calling, syndrome. “serious articles about serious subjects”, when you are far better known for your very good and often hilarious satirical exposures…..But on a “serious” note you are right about your predicted responses from the secretive, self serving, incompetent and hypocritical so called NGB, uka. They (De Vos and Warner) will lie, prevaricate and obfuscate ’till the cows come home in order to protect themselves so don’t expect much from their “investigations”!…the sooner Secretary of State for the DCMS, John Whittingdale gets a grip of the truth of their serial failure to achieve anything for the sport and gets rid of them, the better.