Mo Farah admitted taking performance-enhancing supplement minutes after ‘repeatedly denying’ it in Salazar investigation

Jack de Menezes
Mo Farah 'repeatedly denied' taking an injection of L-carnitine before changing his story: Reuters

Mo Farah is facing fresh allegations that he repeatedly denied receiving a controversial supplement via injection to United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) officials ahead of the 2014 London Marathon, only to then confirm minutes later that he did.

The allegations have been made after BBC Panorama claimed to have received new evidence regarding Farah’s use of L-carnitine, a performance-enhancing supplement that is legal in limited doses.

A documentary on the allegations will be screened on Monday night, in which it is claimed that Farah was injected with L-carnitine in April 2014, a week before he finished eighth in the London Marathon.

It is alleged that Farah was injected with the supplement by the then UK Athletics doctor Robin Chakraverty, who it appears failed to record it properly.

Farah and his team were summoned by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee to attend a Combatting Doping in Sport inquiry after the Sunday Times first revealed the L-carnitine infusion, where Dr Chakraverty insisted the volume administered to Farah was 13.5ml, well short of the 50ml legal limit. There is no evidence that any World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) rules were broken.

However, according to the BBC, Farah “repeatedly denied” having L-carnitine injected when quizzed by Usada officials who travelled to London in 2015 to speak to the Olympic champion’s team as part of their investigation into his disgraced former trainer Alberto Salazar, who has since been banned from the sport for four years for anti-doping offences.

But after leaving a five-hour grilling, Farah allegedly spoke with UK Athletics’ head of distance running Barry Fudge, who had spoken to investigators the day before, with Farah then returning to inform the Usada officials that he had suddenly remembered the details of the injection.

Below is the alleged conversation that took place between Farah and the Usada officials:

Usada: "If someone said that you were taking L-carnitine injections, are they not telling the truth?"

Farah: "Definitely not telling the truth, 100%. I've never taken L-carnitine injections at all."

Officials: "Are you sure that Alberto Salazar hasn't recommended that you take L-carnitine injections?"

Farah: "No, I've never taken L-carnitine injections."

Officials: "You're absolutely sure that you didn't have a doctor put a butterfly needle … into your arm … and inject L-carnitine a few days before the London marathon?"

Farah: "No. No chance."

Upon returning to the interview room, Farah changed his account.

Farah: "So I just wanted to come clear, sorry guys, and I did take it at the time and I thought I didn't…"

Officials: "So you received L-carnitine … before the London marathon?"

Farah: "Yeah ... There was a lot of talk before … and Alberto's always thinking about 'What's the best thing?' 'What's the best thing?'"

Officials: "… a few days before the race … with … Alberto present and your doctor and Barry Fudge and you're telling us all about that now but you didn't remember any of that when I … kept asking you about this?"

Farah: "It all comes back for me, but at the time I didn't remember."

Mo Farah's relationship with disgraced trainer Alberto Salazar is at the centre of a new investigation by BBC Panorama (Reuters)

Farah declined to speak to BBC Panorama regarding the new allegations, while Salazar has rejected the findings by US arbitrators and has appealed his four-year ban.

The investigation has also uncovered emails between Fudge, former UK Athletics performance director Neil Black and Dr Chakraverty in which they question whether the use of L-carnitine is in the “spirit of the sport”, and claimed they would have preferred to have trialled the use of the supplement first given it was not readily available in the UK in its concentrated form. As a result, Fudge had to travel to Switzerland to meet a contact of Salazar’s who was able to supply it for use just two days before the Marathon on 11 April.

In response to the BBC’s claims, Farah’s lawyers sent a letter that read: "It is not against (Wada rules) rules to take (L-carnitine) as a supplement within the right quantities.

"The fact some people might hold views as to whether this is within the 'spirit' of the sport is irrelevant.

"Mr Farah … is one of the most tested athletes in the UK, if not the world, and has been required to fill in numerous doping forms. He is a human being and not robot.

"Interviews are not memory tests. Mr Farah understood the question one way and as soon as he left the room he asked Mr Fudge and immediately returned … to clarify and it is plain the investigators were comfortable with this explanation."