The two sides are accusing each other of robbery and blackmail.

By Alaa Abdeldaiem
April 25, 2019

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah and two-time gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie are involved in a dispute over an alleged theft at a hotel belonging to Gebrselassie in Addis Ababa.

According to the BBC, Farah told reporters at a London Marathon press conference on Wednesday that he had about $3,000 in cash, a watch and two phones taken from his room at Gebrselassie's hotel. Farah blamed Gebrselassie for the March 23 robbery.

"Just to be honest, it's Haile who owns the hotel and when you stay for three months in that hotel, it was very disappointing to know that someone who has that hotel and that kind of support couldn't do nothing," Farah said. 

According to The Guardian, Farah reportedly texted Gebrselassie in an effort to find the stolen items but got no response in return.

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

Gebrselassie responded to Farah's claims by accusing him of blackmail. He said the alleged theft was reported and that five of the hotel's employees were investigated but released without charge, adding that police "found nothing on the reported robbery case."

Gebrselassie also accused Farah of leaving the hotel without paying his service bill and of "disgraceful misconduct." He claims that Farah "punched and kicked” a husband and wife during what he said was an unprovoked attack, according to The Guardian. 

Criminal charges were dropped after Gebrselassie intervened on Farah's behalf, the Ethiopian runner said.

“Always when he does something wrong or whatever, we take care of him because he is a big name,” Gebrselassie said. “When he reacted to the two athletes in the gym, and he kicked and punched, he was almost in police custody. But I talked to the police and said: 'This is Mo Farah, he is a big athlete, he is an international name. Leave him.'"

“I am very, very sad," he added. "I loved this guy but he has tried to destroy my name.”

A spokesperson for Farah disputed Gebrselassie's claims.

"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)," the spokesperson said in a statement to BBC. "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," the spokesperson added.

Farah will be racing against defending champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge during the London Marathon on Sunday.

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