Telegraph Sport athletics correspondant Ben Bloom took to Twitter yesterday (3 August), saying: "Mo Farah is refusing to speak to newspapers ahead of London 2017. It's cowardly and he's doing athletics a disservice."
He continued: "I hope he thinks he's getting value for money from these PR experts. From where I'm standing he's getting fleeced and it's selling the sport short."
Mo Farah is refusing to speak to newspapers ahead of London 2017. It's cowardly and he's doing athletics a disservice. pic.twitter.com/bnOPmkOKde— Ben Bloom (@benbloomsport) August 2, 2017
Freuds, which was brought on board by Farah in 2015 following allegations of missed drug tests, told PRWeek that the athlete's preparation for the London event was "no different to that for any other major championships", but that he had "understandably asked for the last two weeks before his race to be free from any commitments, in order to focus solely on his preparations".
A spokesperson for the agency said: "There is no strategy to avoid media and Mo has answered the questions cited by Bloom literally hundreds of times in press conferences, one-to-one interviews, posts on social media and through us. Ahead of the World Championships, Mo has undertaken the same media commitments as the other British endurance athletes, and in the last couple of weeks alone has been interviewed by various UK print and broadcast titles.
"Given the weight of expectation on Mo’s shoulders ahead of London 2017, he has understandably asked for the last two weeks before his race to be free from any commitments, in order to focus solely on his preparations. This is the same strategy adopted before Rio last year – as well as other Championships in 2015, 2013 and London 2012."
The topic was also broached on BBC Radio 5 Live last night, during which the Corporation's athletics correspondent Mike Costello said:
"Farah has every right, at this stage of his career, to talk to whoever he wants to talk to. There is resentment in the print media that there is not enough of the rigorous questioning that they want to put to him.
"[But] you shouldn't underestimate the role of the media in promoting this sport, which needs it much more than many other sports."
Broadcaster and former British athlete Alison Curbishley added: "It's red rag to a bull. They [the print media] are understandably frustrated. British Athletics should have a right to put him up because they've funded him and he has a duty to give back. Each athlete is different, though – Mo is clearly tired of all the questions, so wants to shut himself away and concentrate on getting ready.
British javelin record-holder Goldie Sayers said: "I think he should do the interview. It's part of the job of being a professional athlete. But I think he's probably just listened to the wrong adviser."
The response to Bloom's tweets on social media was mixed, with some journalists and PR professionals criticising Farah's stance:
Sounds like bad PR advice .... almost always better to lead with your own narrative than be talked about without a chance to put your view— Rob Yeldham (@RobYeldham) August 2, 2017
And herein is the problem... crazy for him to take this stance. https://t.co/2gSInjQa0K— Simon Caney (@simoncaney) August 2, 2017
...but many of the sports-watching public siding with the athlete rather than the press:
As newspapers have spent last few months digging for negative stories about him why should he expect a positive one now.— Chris Briddon (@cibriddon) August 2, 2017
Farah is the most decorated British track athlete in modern history, winning both 5,000m and 10,000m gold at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, but has come under constant scrutiny from the press over his work with coach Alberto Salazar, who is the subject of a two-year doping investigation by USADA. Salazar will not be present at the championships in the capital this weekend as he is seen by Farah as an 'unwanted distraction', according to the Daily Mail.