Mo Farah claimed he was robbed at retired marathon legend Haile Gebrselassie‘s hotel in Ethiopia. Gebrselassie disputes it, strongly.
Farah, speaking ahead of racing Sunday’s London Marathon (4 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold), reportedly said he was robbed of more then $3,000 among different currencies during a three-month stay at Gebrselassie’s Ethiopian hotel that caters to elite runners’ altitude training. Two phones and a watch were also taken, Farah said.
“Just disappointed with Haile,” Farah said, adding, according to the Guardian, “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. 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.
“I just want Haile to take responsibility of getting my stuff back. It’s a hotel’s responsibility to be able to get it back.”
Gebrselassie, the 1996 and 2000 Olympic 10,000m champion and former marathon world-record holder, denied Farah’s claim via statement, confirmed by Gebrselassie’s manager.
A thorough police investigation found nothing and cleared five employees who were in custody for three weeks, Gebrselassie said. He added that Farah was reported to police for attacking another athlete in a gym, but criminal charges were dropped after Gebrselassie mediated. And that Farah left without paying a reported service bill of 81,000 Ethiopian Birr (about $2,800) while being given a 50 percent rate discount on his stay.
Gebrselassie called Farah’s claim an “act of defamation on my hard earned reputation and business. Lawyers will deal with the matter accordingly.”
Farah later disputed all of Gebrselassie’s claims, a spokesperson said.
“Mo is disappointed with this statement and the continued reluctance by the hotel and its owner to take responsibility for this robbery,” the spokesperson said. “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.”
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