Mo Farah is vowing to put on a show for athletics fans in Holyrood Park today to prove he’s on track for another Olympic masterclass in Rio.
The five-time world champion was all smiles after checking in for the Great Edinburgh cross-country, 12 months after a bug forced him out of starting his season in the Capital.
The showpiece comes at the end of yet another torrid week for the sport following revelations of corruption at the highest level that resulted in three senior figures booted out for good – with more to come on Thursday when the second part of an investigation from the World Anti-Doping Agency is expected to dish more dirt on a culture of cheating.
Farah, 32, admits he’s hoping some star showings in 2016 – and a wave of reforms – can restore the public’s trust in track and field.
“It’s not great to be honest with you and I don’t want to see it,” he said. “But it’s good that they are getting life bans. If anyone is associated with someone then give them what they deserve. I wish the same rules that we apply in our country, other countries would apply. When I race I want to be able to race against clean athletes. That’s it.”
Arriving straight from his base in Oregon, the Olympic 5000 and 10,000-metre champion will jet out tomorrow to Ethiopia for an extended camp at altitude before flying back to turn out indoors in Glasgow next month.
Proving he’s in top shape against big names from the United States and Europe will be a positive sign that his plans for Brazil are spot on.
“For many years cross country was a key building block for the year ahead and I’m pleased to add it to my schedule for the first time since I ran in Edinburgh back in 2011,” he said.
“This race fits in well because I’ve been at home building up mileage before I go into a training camp. You want to go to a training camp in good shape but not the best shape of your life. That’s why I want to come here and test myself to see where I am at.
“And to get back racing again. Also it would have been nice to compete the last couple of years when I said I was going to compete and it hasn’t worked out because I’ve been ill and wasn’t quite ready.”
Alemayehu Bezabeh and Adel Mechaal, who placed second and third respectively at last month’s Euro Cross, as well as American hope Garrett Heath, are set to give the British legend a tough work out with Scottish pair Andy Butchart and Callum Hawkins hoping to make their mark.
But after training yesterday in the freezing fog, it’s going to be hat and sleeves at the ready for Mo to turn up the heat on his challengers.
“It rains in Portland but I spend a lot of time on the treadmill,” he said. “I love doing that. It is going to be good here but it’s important I stay warm and get my head around the race.”