Athletics: Mo Farah has Haile Gebrselassie row regrets but sticks 'by every word I said'

Men's elite runner Britain's Mo Farah had £2,600 (S$4,600), two mobile phones and a Tag Heuer watch stolen at his training camp in March.
Men's elite runner Britain's Mo Farah had £2,600 (S$4,600), two mobile phones and a Tag Heuer watch stolen at his training camp in March.PHOTO: AFP

(GUARDIAN) - Mo Farah has expressed his regret for sparking a furious row with Haile Gebrselassie which overshadowed the build-up to the London marathon, but insists he was telling the truth about a robbery at the Ethiopian legend's hotel.

"What I said is the honest truth," said Farah, who had £2,600 (S$4,600), two mobile phones and a Tag Heuer watch stolen at his training camp last month.

"I'm one of those people I like to get things off my chest. It's become a bit too much but I stick by every word I said.

"But at the same time it is all about the London marathon and I didn't mean to take any limelight away from the sport."

Farah also accused Gebrselassie of punching "below the belt" with his insinuation that he had tried in 2017 to bring into the Ethiopian's hotel the controversial coach Jama Aden, who has been charged by Spanish police with doping offences.

"It is untrue," he added. "I already spoke to Gary my coach and my training partner Abdi Bashir, who has ran a national record today, he can prove it. Jake Robertson from New Zealand, who was there, can prove it."

At this point a member of his team began gesturing to Farah not to answer any more Aden-related questions, while a London marathon press officer also tried to stop any further enquiries.

 
 

However when pressed Farah said he not had any contact with Aden since 2016. Farah also insisted he had "no regrets" about bringing up the theft, despite Gebrselassie subsequently also accusing him of hitting a married couple, trying to blackmail him and not paying his hotel bill.

Despite the problems he has faced Farah said he planned to continue training in Ethiopia - although he would not stay in Gebrselassie's hotel.

"Why would I change?" he added. "I've got great support and text messages from people, big names in athletics. I wouldn't go back to his place but there are plenty of hotels."

Farah's coach Gary Lough offered a long defence of his man and insisted he had been unfairly maligned.

"Mo's got nothing to do with Aden and Haile's trying to deflect from the facts," he said. "You keep bringing it up because you feed off Haile's lies."

He added: "I'm disappointed that there's been mistruths, exaggerations and slurs which some papers have on their front pages. They have mentioned hitting and women and obviously that's not good especially when it's not true. Essentially your reputation is what you are to other people. But he's a good boy."