ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia >> Runner Mo Farah has been accused of taking part in two separate physical altercations at a hotel in Ethiopia, as an extraordinary public feud between the four-time Olympic champion and retired distance-running great Haile Gebrselassie escalated today.
On a second day of conflicting allegations from the two camps, Farah was accused of fighting with other athletes in the gym of the hotel during his visit this year and also assaulting a gym instructor there in 2018.
The hotel is owned by Gebrselassie, and the feud between the two started when Farah announced on Wednesday that he was robbed while staying there last month and said he was “disappointed with Haile” because staff didn’t take responsibility for the incident.
One of the athletes involved in this year’s alleged fight at the gym, Sisay Tsegaye, told The Associated Press today that he was punched by Farah after the popular British runner accused others at the gym of copying his training regimes.
“Mo hit me from behind around my neck,” Sisay said, adding that the incident was “not that serious.”
However, Sisay disputed Gebrselassie’s claims that Farah also assaulted his wife by kicking and punching her. He added that he was now on good terms with Farah and they had resolved their differences.
Farah’s representatives confirmed there was an incident at the gym earlier this year “but it was categorically not of Mo’s making.” They said Farah was the victim of “threatening behavior” by others and reported it to police.
“He (Farah) immediately raised a complaint to the highest level within the police force,” Farah’s representatives said in a statement. “The individuals concerned were warned that any further threatening behavior towards Mo would result in police action.”
Chala Diriba, a gym instructor who works at the Yaya Village hotel, also told the AP that Farah grabbed him by the neck and pushed and shoved him in another altercation last year.
Farah’s representatives declined to comment on the second alleged incident.
The accusations surfaced after Farah — a double Olympic champion in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters — chose to air his grievances with Gebrselassie during a news conference on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s London Marathon.
In an unprompted announcement, Farah said money, two cellphones and a valuable watch given to him by his wife were stolen from his room and “the hotel never took responsibility or … (did) anything to get my stuff back.”
Farah’s comments caused a fierce response from Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic champion, who accused Farah of “disgraceful conduct” while staying at his hotel. Gebrselassie said Farah also left without paying a $3,000 hotel bill.
Gebrselassie forwarded a text message to the AP today which he claims he received from Farah warning him that he was going to use the news conference to make the alleged robbery public.
The message read: “Know that I am not responsible for what I say during the press moment in London and what influence it will have on your personality and that of your business. Greetings from a very disappointed friend. Sir Mo.”