Mo Farah rails at Haile Gebrselassie over Ethiopia hotel theft | Sport

Sir Mo Farah has launched an astonishing attack on distance great Haile Gebrselassie for ignoring his pleas after he had £2,500 in cash, an irreplaceable watch and two mobile phones stolen at the Ethiopian legend’s hotel last month.

Speaking at the London marathon press conference, Farah claimed that he was making his final preparations for Sunday’s race when thieves entered his room at the Yaya Africa Athletics Village, a high-altitude training centre near Addis Adaba, and broke into his locked suitcase.

Farah said that 20,000 birr (£534), $1500 (£1,159), £800, €100 (£86) and two phones were taken, along with a Tag watch his wife Tania had bought him as a present for their anniversary.

“The robbery happened on my birthday, when I went for an early morning Sunday run,” explained 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. But I then saw it was locked and [the room] had been broken into. Someone’s got the key from reception, opened [the room door] 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 to intervene but without success.

“The hotel wasn’t going to do nothing so I called the police, they came over, took stuff, went away, then said they arrested five guys but they got released again,” he claimed. “Then 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,’” he added. “We got two lawyers to look into it. I don’t care about the money, just get my watch. Towards the end they said they were going to get my stuff, so I left it two and a half weeks – I knew nothing was coming out so I texted Haile.”

Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images Europe

Farah said he was so incensed with Gebrselassie he was willing to share the final text he had sent the Ethiopian, threatening to call him out at Wednesday’s London marathon press conference. The text, which the Guardian has seen, 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 agent, Jos Hermens, said his client would be issuing a response in due course. “It needs some time, because it’s a long story,” he added.

Farah said he had always thought highly of Gebrselassie but the robbery had soured their relationship. He also confirmed that 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,” added Farah. “It’s a hotel’s responsibility to be able to get it back. You pay for each night – you’re not getting it free. I had to move out for the last week because I didn’t feel comfortable.

“As someone who pays for a hotel, I’m disappointed not to take proper action. It doesn’t matter who I am – if you stay somewhere for three months you expect a little bit more.”

It is not the first time Farah has got into difficulties while training. Last year, when preparing for the Chicago marathon in St Moritz, he was bitten by a dog on his backside while running in St Moritz.

However, Farah insisted that three months of training in Ethiopia had otherwise gone well and he was trying to stay “positive and strong” for Sunday’s race. “My work has been done by months and months of hard training,” he added. “I believe I’m good to go and on Sunday you will see what happens.”

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Publish date : 2019-04-24 16:00:00

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