Haile Gebrselassie claims Mo Farah row began when he refused doping scandal suspect Jama Aden access to his hotel as he insists Brit was ‘trained’ by disgraced Somalian coach.
Haile Gebrselassie has made the extraordinary claim that his row with Mo Farah started when Jama Aden, a coach linked to a major doping investigation, was refused entry to his hotel.
Farah has always gone to lengths to distance himself from Aden, who is being pursued by Spanish authorities and Interpol after his arrest following a drugs raid in 2016.
Yet after two days of furious back-and-forth between Farah and Gebrselassie over the Brit’s stay at the Ethiopian’s Yaya Village Resort near Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian has made the astonishing assertion that their falling out originated when Aden was ‘forbidden’ from entering his resort.
Gebrselassie, who was head of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation at the time, says he refused Aden admittance and made the further claim that Aden, a Somalian, was involved in Farah’s training.
It is unclear when the alleged incident happened but Gebrselassie said it occurred while he was Ethiopian Athletics Federation president, his tenure of which ran between November 2016 and November 2018.
Giving an interview to an Ethiopian journalist, Gebrselassie said: “His grudge against me started when I denied access to Jama Aden to the hotel and forbid access.
Jama Aden was conducting training with him at the time. I was head of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation at the time. He was angry with me at the time… and looking for ways to revenge for that.”
After a request for comment, a spokesperson for Farah on Thursday night dismissed the claims as ‘utter nonsense’ and reasserted that ‘Jama Aden has never trained Mo’.
Farah has previously played down his involvement with Aden, who is wanted by Spanish police and Interpol to stand trial in Spain but was reported last year to be in Qatar.
He could face up to four and a half years in prison after police swooped in June 2016 on several premises in the Catalonian town of Sabadell where Aden and his athletes were staying.
The banned drug EPO and multiple syringes were found. None of the athletes present —around 30 —were reported to have been found positive after subsequent testing. An Athletics Integrity Unit investigation will follow the conclusion of the police investigation.
Aden, whose star athlete is Ethiopia’s multiple world-record-holder, Genzebe Dibaba, was described by British Athletics in 2016 as an ‘unofficial facilitator’ for Farah when he trained in Ethiopia in 2015, saying his role was to hold a stopwatch and call out lap times.
They were also photographed together in 2016. Farah added at Rio 2016, where he won the third and fourth of his Olympic gold medals, that Aden wanted a ‘selfie’.
A spokesman for Farah’s media representatives, Freud Communications, said in 2016: “Mo is always with a British Athletics person and of course they will speak to Jama and be courteous if they bump into each other but Jama has no input into Mo’s training whatsoever.”
Farah’s previous coach Alberto Salazar is still the subject of a lengthy of a US Anti-Doping investigation. Farah left Salazar’s group in 2017 after starting their medal-rich relationship in 2011.
His remarkable row with Gebrselassie became public on Wednesday when Farah unexpectedly detailed the theft of his belongings at the Yaya Village Resort.
He claimed he had a watch, two phones and £2,600 in cash across four currencies was stolen from his room on March 23— his 36th birthday.
Farah went on to angrily criticise Gebrselassie for not returning multiple messages for help over the incident, before an explosive response from the double Olympic champion, who accused Farah of blackmail and ‘disgraceful conduct’ and made a vague allegation that Farah had ‘attacked a married athlete’ in the hotel gym two months ago. He said it was his mediation that led to police dropping the matter.
Gebrselassie expanded on that to allege Farah punched and kicked at a married couple – Ethiopian athletes, Dagmawit Kibru and her husband Sisay Tsegaye.
Farah’s coach Gary Lough, who was present in the gym, said there was an altercation, but insisted Farah acted in self-defence.
Lough told the Evening Standard: “I turn round and this guy comes over threateningly as if he’s going to attack (Abi) Bashir (Farah’s training partner) and Mo tries to defend Bashir and hits the other guy.
“So, they’re grappling a little bit and the woman comes running and Mo turns round not knowing who it is and she got hit on the arm. She had two five kilogram weights in her hands and was threatening to throw them at him.
“Hotel security did nothing. She’s in the local police so she runs to them but we got the chief of the federal police involved. There were lengthy statements and police reports, and Haile’s just relying on hearsay as he wasn’t there.”
Lough added: “Haile’s been exposed for what he is and he’s fighting with low blows and lies. It’s mistruths and exaggerations.”
Sisay Tsegaye himself admitted the incident was not serious, saying on Thursday: ‘Police came to the scene but it was resolved with mediation by the marathon runner Feyisa Lelisa (who got a silver medal in the marathon in Rio).
“However, it was not Haile’s mediation as claimed by him. In all of this, my wife was not hit as claimed by some people. I’m in good terms now with Mo.”
The escalation between Farah and Gebrselassie, two of the world’s most renowned distance runners, has been extraordinary. It is believed that the initial call to go public was made by the Farahs more than his management group. It is a curious decision in light of what it has provoked ahead of Sunday’s London Marathon.
In further comments indicated that Gebrselassie said he doubted Farah’s original claim to have been robbed.
He said: “He wanted to blackmail me. Last Saturday he asked to be paid for the alleged robbery and when we kept quiet he started defaming me and my hotel. With all that he said, I now doubt that he was robbed in my hotel in the first place.
“I helped him while at our hotel. We gave him a 50 per cent discount and was paying $52 per day on a full board basis, but he has various issues at the hotel. All of us were shocked by his behaviour. I will seek a legal remedy for this defamation that he did towards me and my hotel.”
The instructor at the hotel gym, Chala Diriba, revealed Farah had previously been aggressive on a stay a year earlier.
Diriba said: “It happened one year ago. Mo alleged I was copying his program and training other Ethiopian athletes with it. On that date, he pushed and shoved me…and then grabbed me around my neck and pushed me out of the gym. “I left the place crying. Since then, I have never been at the gym when he is training there.”