The UK Anti-Doping Agency has said it will not hand over Sir Mo Farah’s blood and urine samples to any investigation into the Nike Oregon Project unless it is given credible evidence to suggest they might contain a banned substance.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is expected to re-test some samples of athletes from the training group, where Farah ran between 2010 to 2017, as part of a new investigation into the Oregon Project that was announced in the wake of Alberto Salazar’s four-year ban for doping offences. The US Anti-Doping Agency, which led the initial investigation into Salazar, had also previously expressed an interest in getting hold of Farah’s samples held in the UK – a move resisted by Ukad.
Ukad’s chief executive, Nicole Sapstead, said she would not agree to a “trawling expedition” without the evidence to back it up, as she wants to save any samples in its possession in case there are scientific advances in the future.
“We supported Usada in their investigation into the Nike Oregon Project,” she said. “There has never been any ill-feeling or lack of willingness or assistance on our part. But when you open a sample up, every time you freeze it and thaw it and freeze it again, you are degrading the sample. I was simply saying to Usada: ‘You need to be able to give me credible evidence about what it is you want to look for, rather than this just being a trawling expedition.’
“If any partner comes forward and says: ‘I have evidence to suggest this might be present in these athletes and this is part of an ongoing investigation,’ I’ll be the first one to say: ‘Help yourself. How can we help you?’ But I’m not going to risk samples that we hold in storage that could enable us to re-test when the science moves along.”
Sapstead also hinted she would resist any order from Wada to hand the Farah samples over. “We’ll have to see whether that comes into play,” she said. “My view is, any sample collected by UK Anti-Doping is the possession of UK Anti-Doping. If we collected on behalf of the IAAF, it’s the IAAF’s sample. If we collected on behalf of Usada, it’s Usada’s sample.”
Farah, who denies any wrongdoing during his career, said recently he would have left Salazar much earlier if he had known what the coach was up to.
Sapstead, meanwhile, refused to be drawn on whether the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman would be charged with an anti-doping rule violation after admitting buying testosterone - and then lying about it to Ukad - during his ongoing medical tribunal in Manchester.
“It remains our belief that we let them continue with their case and we just keep a watching brief on it,” she said. “I can assure you that if any information came out of that hearing, we will be responding to it.”
She insisted that Ukad was “working really closely with the GMC” after deciding to “give them primacy”.
“They have the power to compel certain things from that individual that we don’t,” she explained.