A furious war of words erupted between Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie on Wednesday night after the Ethiopian accused the four-time Olympic champion o
A furious war of words erupted between Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie on Wednesday night after the Ethiopian accused the four-time Olympic champion of ‘attacking a married athlete’ in response to Farah’s revelation that he was robbed while staying at Gebrselassie’s hotel.
Farah had claimed he had a watch, two phones and £2,600 in cash across four currencies stolen from his room at Gebrselassie’s Yaya Village Resort near Sululta on March 23 – his 36th birthday.
Farah went on to angrily criticise Gebrselassie for not returning multiple messages about the incident, before an explosive response from the double Olympic champion.
Sir Mo Farah was robbed at Olympic legend Haile Gebrselassie’s hotel in Ethiopia last month
In an astonishing statement, Gebrselassie said a report was made to police over Farah allegedly ‘attacking a married athlete’ in the hotel gym.
When contacted by Sportsmail, Gebrselassie’s agent Jos Hermens confirmed the authenticity of the statement but was unable to clarify the nature of the ‘attack’, after which Gebrselassie claims police charges were dropped following his mediation.
In further claims, Gebrselassie said there were ‘multiple reports of disgraceful conduct, which was not expected from a person of his calibre, and his entourage during his stay, by hotel staff’. It added that when Farah left the hotel after a two-month stay he did not pay his bill of 81,000 birr (£2,168) and that he would be legally pursuing Farah for defamation.
Farah attempted to contact Gebrselassie multiple times but he did not return his messages
A spokesperson for Farah told Sportsmail: ‘Mo is disappointed with this statement and the continued reluctance by the hotel and its owner to take responsibility for this robbery. Mo disputes all of these claims which are an effort to distract from the situation, where members of his hotel staff used a room key and stole money and items from Mo Farah’s room (there was no safe as it was faulty, and Mo requested a new one).
‘Police report confirm the incident and the hotel admitted responsibility and were in contact with Mo’s legal advisor. The hotel even offered to pay Mo the amount stolen, only to withdraw the offer when he prematurely left the hotel and moved to other accommodation, due to security concerns. Despite many attempts to discuss this issue privately with Mr Gebrselassie, he did not respond but now that he has, we would welcome him or his legal team getting in touch so that this matter can be resolved.’
Farah, who was in Ethiopia to prepare for Sunday’s London Marathon, had made the stunning row public in a routine pre-race press conference.
Having stayed in to the hotel from January 18, he discovered after returning from a training run on March 23 that his suitcase had been ransacked, with a Tag watch missing in addition to £800, 20,000 birr (£534), $1500 (£1159) and 100 Euro (£86) and two phones.
Farah attempted to contact Gebrselassie after growing frustrated with what he considered police inactivity and was left fuming after the double Olympic champion did not return his messages.
Farah insists his preparations for Sunday’s London Marathon had not been compromised
Farah said on Wednesday: ‘I’d been staying there the entire time from January 18. That morning I had left at 5.30am and I gave my key to reception so they could clean – I’d been doing that all the time. I came back about 4.30pm, got the keys from reception, went into my room, lay on the bed because I was a bit tired and then I noticed my bag was open. I was like, “Shit, I left my bag open”.
‘It was locked but it’s been broken into. Someone’s got the key from reception, opened it up, took my money, took my nice watch that my wife got me and two phones.
‘The watch was sentimental – it can’t be replaced. They weren’t going to do nothing so I called the police, they came over, took stuff, went away, they said they arrested five guys but they got released again.’
In directing his anger at Gebrselassie, he added: ‘I sent Haile a message to tell him what had happened but he didn’t reply. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t respond even though that’s his hotel. One of the guys from the hotel called him because I said I wanted to speak to him and he said, ‘We’re working on it’.
‘We got two lawyers to look into it. I don’t care about the money, just get my watch.
‘As someone who pays for a hotel, I’m disappointed they didn’t take proper action. It doesn’t matter who I am – if you stay somewhere for three months you expect a little bit more.
‘I just want him (Gebrselassie) to take responsibility of getting my stuff back. It’s a hotel’s responsibility to be able to get it back. You pay for each night – you’re not getting it free.
Gebrselassie’s full response on Wednesday afternoon
‘I had to move out for the last week because I didn’t feel comfortable.’
Sportsmail has seen a text message Farah sent to Gebrselassie in pushing for a resolution. It read: ‘I want to inform you that I’m disappointed you have not made any effort to find my stolen money, and especially my watch.
‘I have tried to contact you by telephone several times. Know that I am not responsible for what I say during the press conference in London and what influence it will have on your personality and your business. Greetings. Sir Mo.’
Gebrselassie’s response included a claim that Farah declined a safety deposit box for his money and said five members of staff had been detained by local police for three weeks before being released after being cleared. In calling Farah’s allegations of robbery ‘unproven’, the statement read: ‘It is with deep sorrow that I learn Mo Farah dispatched a deceit information against me and my property.’
It added: ‘I found today’s accusations made by Mo with unproven premises, as an act of defamation on my hard earned reputation and business. My lawyers will deal with the matter accordingly.’