UPDATES (Thursday, April 25):
Gebrselassie Tells The Guardian That Farah Attacked Husband And Wife In January, Alleged Victim Downplays Incident In LetsRun Report
It’s the second day of the whirlwind back-and-forth between distance running greats Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie (the original story can be found below), a story that broke yesterday after Farah told the media in London that he had items stolen from Gebrselassie’s hotel last month.
On Thursday, Gebrselassie clarified his claims that Farah had attacked a “married athlete” in the hotel gym, telling The Guardian that Farah “punched and kicked” a married couple as a result of a disagreement. Gebrselassie then doubled down on his claim from Wednesday, telling the British newspaper that his intervention was the only reason Farah was not charged.
“The police said: ‘Haile, why are you saying like this? This is a criminal,’” the 46-year-old Ethiopian said about Farah.
Gebrselassie went on to say that Farah actually apologized for the incident, but Farah’s coach, Gary Lough, who was in Ethiopia with Farah at the time, refutes the notion that his pupil was primarily responsible for the gym ordeal.
Lough claims that the husband and wife involved in the scuffle were copying Farah’s exercises in front of him, and that Farah only got involved physically when it appeared as though the Ethiopian man was about to hit Farah’s training partner, Bashir Abdi. According to Lough, Farah did make contact with the man's wife, but calls that part of the melee accidental.
Lough said that the two sides quickly resolved the dispute.
Then, the identity of the Ethiopian “husband” was revealed later on Thursday when LetsRun.com published a report where Sisay Tsegaye identifies himself as the victim of Farah’s alleged attack. In that report, Tsegaye downplays the severity of Gebrselassie’s account, telling reporter Elias Meseret that his wife was not hit by Farah.
“Police came to the scene but it was resolved with meditation. But he never touched my wife,” Tsegaye said.
The Ethiopian claims that the scuffle— which allegedly occurred two months ago— resulted from an escalation of another incident two months prior, where Farah accused the couple of copying his workout. Tsegaye said he told Farah that he got the routine off YouTube.
Tsegaye offered an alternative account to Lough’s claim that it was the Ethiopian’s side who provoked the altercation, instead claiming that Farah’s friends started the fight.
“What happened at the time was they were saying we were copying their regime, and in the middle of that one of Mo’s friends insulted me,” Tsegaye told LetsRun. “When a minor brawl erupted, Mo kicked me around my neck. It was a minor hit.”
Tsegaye also refutes the notion that Gebrselassie had any hand in the resolution, instead claiming that it was actually Olympic marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lelisa who helped to settle the matter over the phone.
The original story from Wednesday (April 25) appears below:
A war of words and allegations broke out on Wednesday between two of the greatest distance runners in history, as four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah voiced anger at former marathon world record holder and two-time Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie after he says money and personal items were stolen from him while staying at Gebrselassie’s hotel last month.
Farah, who is in London for Sunday’s 2019 London Marathon, initially brought up the issue to the media unprompted at the end of Wednesday’s race press conference, saying that he was “disappointed in Haile,” for not looking into the matter further despite the Ethiopian great owning the hotel— the Yaya Africa Athletics Village in Addis Adaba— where Farah stayed for three months during a high-altitude training stint.
According to The Guardian, the ordeal started on March 23, 2019, Farah’s 36th birthday, which is when Farah claims that roughly $3,100 across multiple currencies was stolen from his hotel room, along with two cell phones and a watch Farah’s wife gave him for their anniversary. Farah claims he was gone at the time on a training run.
“We left at 5:30am with my coach and training partners and I gave my key to the reception so they could clean,” the British star told The Guardian.
Farah says that he contacted police, who arrested five suspects before ultimately releasing them. That’s when Farah apparently reached out to Gebrselassie, who he says did not even respond to his text message. Eventually Farah got a hotel employee to contact Gebrselassie, who told him that the matter was being looked into. But when Farah sensed that nothing was coming of that, he sent another text to Gebrselassie, threatening to spill the beans to the media at the London presser.
The text from Farah to Geb, according to The Guardian, reads:
“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.”
And that’s exactly what Farah did on Wednesday in London, which prompted Gebrselassie to clap back in a big way in response.
The Ethiopian refuted Farah’s claim that the British star’s burglary allegations were mismanaged, instead saying that the matter was reported to police immediately. Gebrselassie says that the suspects were detained for three weeks, but that ultimately police were unable to find necessary proof.
With his side of that story out of the way, Gebrselassie swung the hammer right back at Farah, accusing the Brit of three wrongdoings: failing to pay his $3,000 hotel bill, unspecified “disgraceful conduct” by Farah and his entourage, and most notably, of him attacking a “married athlete” in the hotel’s gym, a supposed incident in which Gebrselassie says the charges were dropped after he intervened with the police.
The Ethiopian did not elaborate on each of his complaints nor did he specify who the “married athlete” was or how that person was attacked by Farah.
Geb also said that Farah declined a safe to keep his belongings in during his stay, and that the hotel was not responsible for his stolen items.
In the final words of his statement, Gebrselassie seemed to suggest imminent legal action against Farah, as he said that his lawyers are now handling the matter, which he called, “an act of defamation on my hard earned reputation and business."
A spokesman for Farah refuted Gebrselassie's claims in a statement to NBC Sports, saying they "are an effort to distract from the situation." Farah's spokesman also claims that the hotel admitted responsibility for the theft, and had even offered to repay the amounts stolen before rescinding that offer after Farah left the hotel prematurely.
We will have more on this story as it continues to develop.