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Haile Gebrselassie disputes Mo Farah’s hotel robbery claim

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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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Lawrence Cherono wins Boston Marathon in third-closest finish ever

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BOSTON — Kenyan Lawrence Cherono won the Boston Marathon by two seconds, edging Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa in the third-closest men’s finish in the race’s 123-year history.

Cherono, a 30-year-old Kenyan, overtook a flailing, slowing Desisa in the final feet of the 26.2-mile event on Boylston Street to win his first major marathon in 2:07:57. Desisa, racing on the anniversary of his 2013 Boston Marathon win that was followed hours later by twin bombings, was seeking his third Boston title.

“It was something amazing,” Cherono said of the closest finish since Elijah Lagat beat Gezahegne Abera in the same time in 2000. “It was not easy.”

Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa won the women’s race in contrastingly convincing fashion, leading alone the last 22 miles and prevailing by 44 seconds over 2017 Boston champ Edna Kiplagat of Kenya. Americans Jordan Hasay and 2018 Boston winner Des Linden were third and fifth, respectively.

“I knew today was going to be a big task to defend,” Linden said on NBCSN. “I had a blast.”

BOSTON MARATHON: Results | Finish Line Camera

Degefa, who on Jan. 25 became the fourth-fastest female marathoner ever in pancake-flat Dubai, shockingly went off on her own in the fourth mile. She led by 90 seconds at 10 miles and nearly 2:30 at the halfway point. Degefa, 28, has never raced a marathon outside Dubai, and, according to TV commentators, did not do a pre-race course tour of Boston.

Though 39-year-old Kiplagat closed in the final miles, Degefa was able to celebrate down Boylston Street. She delivered on pre-race favorite status, having the fastest personal best of the field by two minutes.

“[My husband and coach] said you have good speed, when you have comfortable, just go,” Degefa said through a translator.

Cherono, too, had the fastest personal best in the men’s field, where the top American finishers were Scott Fauble and Jared Ward in seventh and eighth. Surprise 2018 Boston winner Yuki Kawauchi of Japan was 17th.

For the women, Hasay and Linden remain among the favorites for the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon in Atlanta on Feb. 29, though Linden is undecided on her next move at age 35. Top runners sometimes skip a fall marathon to prepare for trials, which determine the three Olympians per gender.

Other Olympic contenders include 2017 New York City champ Shalane Flanagan, who has said she may not race again and may be facing surgery, Molly Huddle, who races London in two weeks, and 2017 World bronze medalist Amy Cragg.

In the wheelchair division, Daniel Romanchuk became the youngest Boston Marathon champion at age 20 and the first American winner since 1993. His time, 1:21:36, gave him a near-three-minute win and the fastest time by a U.S. wheelchair racer ever in Boston. On Nov. 4, Romanchuk became the youngest male and first American male wheelchair racer to win the New York City Marathon.

Swiss Manuela Schär won the women’s wheelchair title for the second time three years. Schär, who prevailed by 7:16 over Tatyana McFadden in 1:34:19, now holds the current Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York City and Tokyo Marathon titles.

MORE: Shalane Flanagan may need surgery, starts post-racing career

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Ethiopian marathoner who made Olympic protest returns from exile

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — The Ethiopian marathon runner who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the Rio Olympics finish line returned from exile on Sunday after sports officials assured him he will not face prosecution.

Feyisa Lilesa’s return from the United States came several months after a reformist prime minister took office and announced sweeping political reforms. He received a warm welcome at the airport from the foreign minister and other senior officials.

Feyisa said the new government is “a result of the struggle by the people” and he hopes it will address concerns after years of repression in Africa’s second most populous nation.

The silver medalist crossed his wrists at the finish line in 2016 in solidarity with protesters in his home region, Oromia, who like many across Ethiopia were demanding wider freedoms.

Feyisa later said he feared he would be imprisoned or killed if he returned home. But he became a symbol of resistance for many youth until the pressure on the government led to a change of power, with 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office in April.

Abiy is the country’s first leader from the Oromo ethnic group since the ruling coalition came to power 27 years ago.

Ethiopia’s government did not immediately comment Sunday on the runner’s return.

Asked by The Associated Press if he has any political ambitions, Feyisa said: “I don’t have any ambition in politics! Actually I didn’t get close to politics, politics gets close to me.”

Feyisa broke down in tears while speaking about youth who lost their lives during the years of protests. “I will continue to remember those who lost their lives for the cause. Many people lost their lives for it.”

Turning his attention to running, he said his next race will be the Dubai Marathon in January.

“My training while I was in exile was not good, so it has affected my performance,” Feyisa said. He missed two races in recent weeks as he prepared to return to Ethiopia. “I will resume my regular training after a week.”

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