Sunday 20 October 2019

Mo Farah's coach accuses Haile Gebrselassie of lying as war of words on alleged robbery and altercation escalates

Haile Gebrselassie has escalated his extraordinary war of words with Sir Mo Farah by claiming Farah
Haile Gebrselassie has escalated his extraordinary war of words with Sir Mo Farah by claiming Farah "punched and kicked" a husband and wife during a stay in his Ethiopian hotel. Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

The war of words between Sir Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie continued on Thursday as the Briton's coach accused the Ethiopian great of lying.

The pair's extraordinary fall-out comes amid claims and counter-claims that Farah "punched and kicked" a husband and wife during a stay at Gebrselassie's hotel.

The row started when Farah, speaking to reporters on Wednesday ahead of Sunday's London Marathon, had criticised Gebrselassie over an alleged robbery in a hotel owned by the retired Ethiopian in which he claims he had a watch, two phones and money stolen.

Speaking on Thursday, Gary Lough, Farah's coach, admitted there was an incident involving a husband and wife in Gebrselassie's gym, but that his man was the innocent party.

Lough, who was with Farah at the time of the incident, told the Evening Standard: "Haile's been exposed for what he is and he's fighting with low blows and lies. It's mistruths and exaggerations.

"I'm doing an exercise, I turn round and this guy comes over threateningly as if he's going to attack Abi Bashir (Farah's training partner) and Mo tries to defend Bashir and hits the other guy.

"So, they're grappling a little bit and the woman comes running and Mo turns round not knowing who it is and she got hit on the arm. She had two 5kg weights in her hands and was threatening to throw them at him. So, I shout, 'Put those things the f*** down or you'll be in jail'.

"Hotel security did nothing. She's in the local police, so she runs to them, but we got the chief of the federal police involved and they were going to arrest these people.

"There were lengthy statements and police reports, and Haile's just relying on hearsay as he wasn't there at the time."

Farah disputes all the allegations and the row comes after he claimed he had £2,600 in cash in four currencies stolen, as well as a TAG watch and two mobile phones.

That led to Gebrselassie's claim that Farah had an altercation with the couple in the gym.

"Farah said to him: 'Why are you following me?'" Gebrselassie told the Guardian. "The guy said he wasn't - and that he was just doing his work.

"Immediately Farah punched them and kicked them. Especially the husband. There were lots of witnesses."

A spokesperson for Farah has claimed the allegations are a deflection tactic from Gebrselassie.

In a statement to Press Association Sport, the spokesperson said: "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 reports 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."

Gebrselassie claimed that Farah declined the use of a safety deposit box and said five members of hotel staff had been detained by police investigating the "unproven" robbery for three weeks before being released.

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