In Brief

What Mo Farah has been accused of by Haile Gebrselassie

Running legends trade insults after British Olympic star claims money and watch stolen at Ethiopian’s hotel

Star athletes Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie are embroiled in a war of words over an alleged theft while the British Olympian was staying at a hotel owned by his former distance running rival.

The dispute between the pair - “who had previously been friends”, notes Sky News - was made public as Farah held court at a press conference to publicise this weekend’s London Marathon.

Farah said that he was “disappointed” by Gebrselassie’s response after a watch, two phones and money stolen was stolen from his room at the hotel near the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in March, ITV News reports.

Farah claimed that the retired Ethiopian runner, who won two 10,000-metre Olympic titles, did not return his messages about the alleged theft. “I just want him to take responsibility for getting my stuff back,” Farah said.

“It’s a hotel’s responsibility to be able to get it back. You pay for each night – you’re not getting it free.”Gebrselassie responded by accusing Farah and his entourage of “multiple reports of disgraceful conduct” while staying at the hotel, and said the British star had not paid his $3,000 (£2,300) hotel bill, despite being offered a 50% discount, The Guardian reports.

The Ethiopian also claims Farah was reported to police for attacking an athlete in the gym, but that the charge was later dropped as a result of his own “mediation role”.

A spokesperson for Farah said that the athlete “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.”

Farah was staying in Ethiopia for three months to train for Sunday’s marathon when thieves allegedly entered his room at Gebrselassie’s Yaya Africa Athletics Village and broke into his locked suitcase.

The 36-year-old said 20,000 birr (£534), $1500 (£1159), £800, €100 (£86) and two phones were stolen, along with a Tag watch his wife had bought as an anniversary present.

Farah said that after failing to get any response from the hotel managers, he texted Gebreselassie a number of times to request help.

Incensed at being ignored, Farah claimed, he then sent a text that said: “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 in turn has said the message looked like “an act of blackmailing and accusation”. He also 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.

As Sky News points out, the row “is certain to dominate the build-up to Sunday’s marathon”, where Farah will be competing against world record holder Eliud Kipchoge.

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