22 June 2015
It’s now nearly three weeks since the doping allegations against Mo Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar and his training partner Galen Rupp surfaced via the BBC’s Panorama programme ‘Catch Me If You Can’.
But ever since the dual Olympic champion has been on the back foot, struggling to get his opinion out as the story went viral.
Soon after the programme was broadcast, he nervously admitted it was inevitable his reputation would get ruined and that “there are questions that need answering… The public deserve to know what is going on and I need to know what is going on”.
At this point instead of announcing he’d be putting distance between himself and Salazar until the allegations were investigated properly, he made the regrettable decision to fly home to his US training base. Many wondered if he was actually running away.
When back in the UK a few days later to participate in the Birmingham Grand Prix, he admitted he knew about the BBC’s claims three or four days before the programme was broadcast. The problem was it soon emerged he’d actually known up to four weeks before the episode went to air.
For the first time his fans began to wonder was Mo Farah telling the truth?
To make matters even worse he made yet another ill-advised decision a few hours later – he pulled out of the athletics meeting, disappointing many thousands of people who’d paid money to see him race.
As the mat was being pulled from under his feet, Farah unfortunately continued to slide with last week’s revelations that he had missed two drugs tests, in 2010 and 2011.
At this point he should have done something to reassure his loyal fans. He needed to get his message out – instead he remained quiet and hidden from view. Unsurprisingly, journalists hungry for a story jumped into the void – and Farah’s image took a beating.
But at last the penny has dropped.
Farah has now realised the need for crisis management and taken on Freud’s PR team, allowing the pressure to ease – for now.
It’s with thanks to effective PR that Mo Farah’s reputation is beginning to get back on track.