The news that Sir Mo Farah, who recently announced he would return to the track to defend his 10,000m title at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, would anchor the running leg of a half-Ironman relay team featuring also British cyclist Mark Cavendish and swimmer Chloe McCardel of Australia on December 7 has sparked a number of skeptical comments on social media. Farah will race as part of the Legends relay team at the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship in Bahrain on Saturday, December 7.
Mark Cavendish and Mo Farah will be part of a relay team at Ironman 70.3 Bahrain next week (joined by open-water swim phenom Chloe McCardel). pic.twitter.com/0A1KXckeRU
— brad culp (@bbculp) December 2, 2019
The Legends team is one of 100 relay teams competing this weekend. Farah, whose last race was the Chicago Marathon on October 13, at which he finished a disappointing eighth, with a time of 2:09:58 (his slowest marathon), has been the subject of many negative news reports in the wake of the Alberto Salazar scandal.
Salazar and Nike Oregon Project team doctor Jeffrey Brown were banned from athletics for four years on September 30 for doping violations involving NOP athletes. The NOP was subsequently shut down, and shortly afterwards former NOP athlete Mary Cain appeared in a video and op-ed in the New York Times describing a culture of bullying and fat-shaming under Salazar. Farah was an NOP athlete from 2011 to 2017, and UK Athletics recently announced it will review the decision to allow him to continue training under Salazar after USADA opened an investigation in 2015.
Quite apart from Farah’s current issues with his image, the notion of his participation in a half-ironman relay also struck some commenters as unimpressive. “Who cares how fast they can go in their specialties?” was one comment. Here’s another: “Waiting for them to announce the 7 individuals, who will be contesting a different sport each, in the heptathlon at the Olympics next year. Oh wait, that’s not how the heptathlon works either.” This commenter is really on to something: “I’d like to see McCardel run, Cav swim, Farah bike.”