LONDON (Reuters) - Mo Farah is set to defend his world 5,000 and 10,000 meters titles in Beijing against the backdrop of the most difficult and chastening season of his career.
The Briton has enjoyed plenty of golden moments on the track, back-to-back double Olympic and world championship triumphs ensuring he will go down as one of the greatest distance runners of all time.
But in June Farah found himself engulfed in a storm surrounding doping claims against his coach Alberto Salazar and he has been trying to douse the flames ever since.
Farah, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, protested he was “being dragged through the mud” after a BBC documentary alleged Salazar, who has denied the accusations, had violated anti-doping rules.
Farah suddenly found himself facing unwanted headlines, a far cry from the adulation that greeted his double at the 2012 London Games.
He was so rattled that he pulled out of a race on home soil in Birmingham, saying he was “emotionally and physically drained” and needed to seek answers from his coach.
Since then Farah has been exonerated by UK Athletics who found no impropriety on his part after receiving the initial findings of a review into his relationship with American Salazar.
Determined to prove he is not cheating, Farah has agreed to release blood test results going back to 2005 -- against the advice of governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“I’m happy to do what it takes to prove I’m a clean athlete,” said Farah.
Despite the distractions, Farah has retained his focus on the track where he is still the man to beat.
After a six-week absence and in his first run back since the doping claims against Salazar, Farah beat off a decent field to win over 5,000 in Lausanne before following up in Monaco by taking fourth after dropping down to 1,500, still a decent effort despite being outpaced.
Going back up in distance he showed he had lost none of his edge when he won over 3,000 at the London Anniversary Games last month with the leading time this year.
That run, which generated memories of his Olympic triumphs in the same stadium three years ago, should have put him spot on for Beijing.
Editing by Ian Ransom