Allyson, Farah head star-stud­ded cast

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Bri­tish dis­tance run­ning king Mo Farah and US golden girl Allyson Felix head­line a star-stud­ded field as the Di­a­mond League’s Pre­fontaine Clas­sic gets un­der way in Eu­gene to­day with the World Cham­pi­onships loom­ing on the hori­zon.

Farah, who com­pleted an un­prece­dented ‘dou­ble-dou­ble’ of Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m gold at last year’s Rio Games, will take to the track at the Uni­ver­sity of Ore­gon’s Hay­ward Field with a fresh gust of dop­ing in­trigue swirling around coach Al­berto Salazar.

Salazar, the mas­ter­mind of Nike’s Ore­gon Project where Farah trains, has been im­pli­cated in a damning re­port by the United States Anti-Dop­ing Agency (USADA) which has cast a crit­i­cal eye over meth­ods used by the coach.

The 269-page re­port ac­cuses Salazar of dan­ger­ously us­ing drugs to boost the per­for­mance of his ath­letes, con­clud­ing the coach had “al­most cer­tainly” bro­ken anti-dop­ing rules by ex­per­i­ment­ing with in­fu­sions of the amino acid L-car­ni­tine.

Farah an­grily hit out at the sug­ges­tion of in­volve­ment in dop­ing when the reve­la­tions first emerged in Fe­bru­ary, in­sist­ing he had noth­ing to hide.

“I am a clean ath­lete who has never bro­ken the rules in re­gards to sub­stances, meth­ods or dosages and it is up­set­ting that some parts of the me­dia, de­spite the clear facts, con­tinue to try to as­so­ci­ate me with al­le­ga­tions of drug mis­use,” Farah said in Fe­bru­ary.

The full USADA re­port how­ever was leaked to US out­lets and pub­lished on the In­ter­net this week, guar­an­tee­ing a fresh round of scru­tiny as the third stop on the Di­a­mond League season be­gins to­day.

Farah faces a re­peat of his Rio 5,000m fi­nal, with both sil­ver medal­list Paul Che­limo and bronze medal­list Ha­gos Ge­brhi­wet, 23, in the field.

With Au­gust’s World Cham­pi­onships in London com­ing into view, Eu­gene’s pow­er­ful field will of­fer a pre­view of some of the ri­val­ries that are likely to be on show in three months’ time.

To­day’s open­ing events will see Ethiopia’s Olympic sil­ver medal­list Gen­zebe Dibaba take an­other crack at the world record in the 5,000m, aiming to beat the ex­ist­ing mark of 14min 11.15sec held by her sis­ter Tirunesh since 2008.

The high­light of to­mor­row’s events sees what is be­ing billed as the strong­est women’s 200m field ever as­sem­bled, with Olympic cham­pion Elaine Thomp­son of Ja­maica head­ing the line-up.

Elaine, who also won the 100m in Rio, is joined by her fel­low Olympic 200m medal­lists, Dafne Schip­pers of the Nether­lands and Tori Bowie of the United States.

The pow­er­ful lineup is given a sprin­kling of star­dust by the pres­ence of US sprint queen Allyson, the most dec­o­rated fe­male track and field ath­lete in Olympic his­tory.

The six-time Olympic gold medal­list was un­able to de­fend her 2012 200m crown in Rio last year af­ter fail­ing to qual­ify for the event at the US tri­als as she bat­tled back from in­jury.

Other high­lights to­mor­row in­clude the men’s 100m, where Olympic sil­ver medal­list Justin Gatlin and Canada’s bronze medal­list An­dre DeGrasse re­sume their ri­valry.

The women’s 800m mean­while sees Olympic cham­pion Caster Se­menya head a strong line-up which also in­cludes Rio medal­lists Francine Niyon­s­aba of Bu­rundi and Mar­garet Wam­bui of Kenya. AFP

Allyson Felix and Mo Farah will com­pete in the Pre­fontaine Clas­sic.

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