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Haile Gebrselassie accuses Mo Farah of blackmail after British runner complains about hotel robbery

The Olympic champion claims his watch was stolen at the Ethiopian’s hotel last month.

Sir Mo Farah at a press conference for the London Marathon yesterday
Sir Mo Farah at a press conference for the London Marathon yesterday
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

ATHLETICS ICONS MO Farah and Haile Gebrselassie have become embroiled in a bitter public dispute after the Ethiopian accused the British Olympic champion of blackmail.

Farah alleges that Gebrselassie had made no effort to recover a number of items he claims were stolen from his room at the Ethiopian’s hotel near Addis Ababa.

Farah was staying at the hotel in late March as part of training for Sunday’s London Marathon.

Yesterday, he claimed that around £2,500 (€2,891) was stolen from his hotel on 23 March, along with a watch given to him by his wife Tania.

“Someone’s got the key from reception, opened it up, took my money, took my nice watch that my wife got me, and two phones,” the 36 year-old said.

“The watch was sentimental – it can’t be replaced.”

Farah also revealed the contents of a text message which he sent Gebrselassie when he lost patience at not having his pleas for help answered.

“I want to inform you that I’m disappointed you have not made any effort to find my stolen money, and especially my watch,” the text read.

“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.”

However, Gebrselassie hit back by accusing Farah of not paying his heavily discounted hotel bill and claimed that the text message looked like “an act of blackmailing and accusation”.

Athletics - Virgin London Marathon 2014 - Haile Gebrselassie Press Conference - Tower Bridge Haile Gebrselassie Source: Nick Potts/PA Images

He also said there had been “multiple reports of disgraceful conduct” at the hotel leveled against Farah and his entourage.

Among his complaints against the Somalia-born Briton was an allegation that he was involved an assault on another athlete in the hotel gym – something Gebrselassie claimed had only been dropped following his intervention.

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“He was reported to the police for attacking an athlete in the gym,” said the 46-year-old Ethiopian.

“But due to my mediation role, the criminal charge was able to be dropped.”

Gebrselassie denied the alleged robbery had been taken lightly, saying that five hotel staff were held in custody for three weeks while it was investigated.

“They were later released by legal bodies after they were found clear,” said Gebrselassie.

“The police were doing all their investigation thoroughly, but found nothing on the reported robbery case.”

Farah denied Gebrselassie’s accusations, saying they were 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”.

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