Gebrselassie hits back at Mo Farah over claims of theft at hotel
Ethiopian says Farah left his hotel without paying; British runner says staff stole from him
Mo Farah poses during a photocall for Sunday’s London marathon at Tower Bridge. Photo: Ben Stansall/Getty Images
A war of words has broken out between Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie after Farah publicly accused the Ethiopian legend of ignoring his pleas for help following a theft at his Addis Ababa hotel last month.
Gebrselassie responded by accusing Farah and his entourage of “multiple reports of disgraceful conduct” while staying in his hotel, adding the British star had not paid his $3,000 hotel bill, despite a 50 per cent discount, and claimed Farah was reported to police for attacking an athlete in the gym, a charge he said was later dropped.
A spokesperson for Farah said he was “disappointed” with Gebrselassie’s response and said he “disputed 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”.
The spokesperson added: “Police reports confirm the incident and the hotel admitted responsibility and were in contact with Mo’s legal adviser. 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.”
The bitter exchange was started by Farah at the end of the press launch for Sunday’s London marathon, with the Briton picking up the microphone to launch an astonishing attack on Gebrselassie, who he said had not done enough after he had £2,500, a watch and two mobile phones stolen at the Ethiopian’s hotel last month.
Farah claimed he was making his final preparations for Sunday’s marathon when thieves entered his room at the Yaya Africa Athletics Village near Addis Ababa and broke into his locked suitcase. The 36-year-old said 20,000 birr (€621), $1,500 (€1,345), £800 (€925), €100 and two phones were stolen, along with a Tag watch his wife had bought as a present for his anniversary.
“The robbery happened on my birthday, when I went for an early morning Sunday run,” said Farah, who will face the world record holder Eliud Kipchoge on Sunday. “We left at 5.30am with my coach and training partners and I gave my key to reception so they could clean. When I came back about 4.30pm I noticed my bag was open. I was like ‘shit, I left my bag open’. But I then saw it was locked and had 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.”
Farah said after having little joy with getting the hotel to look into the theft he repeatedly texted Gebrselassie, who won two 10,000m Olympic titles and broke numerous world records during a glittering career – asking him, without success, to intervene.
Because he was so incensed Farah said he had texted Gebrselassie to express his anger. “I want to inform you that I’m disappointed you have not made any effort to find my stolen money, and especially my watch,” the text read. “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.”
In response Gebrselassie said the message looked like “an act of blackmailing and accusation”. He also said there had been “multiple reports of disgraceful conduct, which was not expected from a person of his calibre, and his entourages during his stay, by the hotel staffs”.
The Ethiopian also claimed he had earlier intervened after Farah had got into an argument at the hotel. “He was reported to the police for attacking an athlete in the gym,” he said. “But due to my mediation role, the criminal charge was able to be dropped.”
Farah said he had always thought highly of Gebrselassie but the robbery had soured their relationship. He also confirmed he had moved out of the hotel and into a house with his long-time training partner Bashir Abdi. “I just want Haile to take responsibility of getting my stuff back,” Farah said. “I had to move out for the last week because I didn’t feel comfortable.”
It is not the first time Farah has got into difficulties while training. Last year, when preparing in St Moritz for the Chicago marathon, he was bitten by a dog on his backside.
Gebrselassie said the incident had been reported immediately to the police and that five of the hotel employees including two women were taken into custody for three weeks. “They were later released by legal bodies after they were found clear,” he said. “The police were doing all their investigation thoroughly, but found nothing on the reported robbery case.” – Guardian