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Gebrselassie hits back at Mo Farah

Mo Farah

Bengaluru, April 26: Haile Gebrselassie has hit back at Mo Farah, accusing him of allegedly hitting a fellow athelete as the row between the two long-distance running athletics are casting a shadow ahead of Sunday's (April 28) London Marathon.

Claims of robbery and an unpaid hotel bill at the heart of the row. It all started with Britain's quadruple Olympic champion Farah wrapping up his pre-marathon press conference with claims that Gebrselassie had made no effort to recover items stolen from his room at the Ethiopian's hotel near Addis Ababa.

Farah was staying at the hotel in late March as part of training for London Marathon.

Gebrselassie -- a two-time Olympic champion -- hit back by accusing Farah of not paying his heavily discounted hotel bill and claimed in a statement to media that only thanks to his intervention had an assault charge brought by a fellow guest against the Briton been dropped.

Farah, in hardly ideal preparations for taking on world record holder and defending champion Eliud Kipchoge, said that around 2,500 pounds had been stolen on March 23 -- his 36th birthday -- along with a watch given to him by his wife Tania.

Farah denied Gebrselassie's accusations, saying they were 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".

"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," said Farah.

"The watch was sentimental -- it can't be replaced."

Farah, who finished third in last year's race but has since set a new European record in landing the prestigious Chicago Marathon, also revealed the contents of a text message he sent Gebrselassie when he lost patience at not having his pleas for help answered.

"I want to inform you that I'm disappointed you haven't made any effort to find my stolen money, and especially my watch," the text read.

"I've tried to contact you by telephone several times.

"Know that I'm not responsible for what I say during the press conference in London and what influence it'll have on your personality and business."

Haile Gebrselassie

Gebrselassie, who also won four outdoor world titles in his illustrious career, hit back claiming the text message looked like "an act of blackmailing and accusation" and added there had been "multiple reports of disgraceful conduct" at the hotel levelled against Farah and his entourage.

Chief among his complaints against the Somalia-born naturalised Briton -- a six-time world outdoor champion -- allegedly assaulted another athlete in the hotel gym.

"He was reported to the police for attacking an athlete in the gym," said the 46-year-old Ethiopian.

"But due to my mediation role, the criminal charge was able to be dropped."

Gebrselassie denied the alleged robbery had been taken lightly, saying that five hotel staff were held in custody for three weeks while it was investigated.

"They were later released by legal bodies after they were found clear," said Gebrselassie.

"The police were doing all their investigation thoroughly, but found nothing on the reported robbery case.

(With Agency inputs)

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Story first published: Friday, April 26, 2019, 11:11 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 26, 2019
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