Mo Farah camp deny claims he attacked couple in gym as Haile Gebrselassie war of words intensifies

MATT MAJENDIE

Mo Farah’s war of words with Haile Gebrselassie has intensified, with the British athlete’s coach describing accusations that Farah punched and kicked a couple while staying in Ethiopia as “lies”.

Gebrselassie claimed the Londoner had attacked the unnamed husband and wife athletes and that he had to talk police out of arresting Farah.

But coach Gary Lough, who was with Farah at the time of the incident, told Standard Sport: “Haile’s been exposed for what he is and he’s fighting with low blows and lies. It’s mistruths and exaggerations.” And he dismissed claims police had looked to arrest Farah, instead insisting a police report had been filed against the couple in question.

Lough said the fracas had stemmed from arguments after Farah’s training exercises were copied and reportedly sold to other Ethiopian athletes.

At the time of the incident, Lough — the husband of marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe — said Farah had been working out in a gym neighbouring the hotel owned by Gebrselassie, where Farah was ­staying for his pre-marathon training camp.

Lough said: “I’m doing an exercise, 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 5kg weights in her hands and was threatening to throw them at him. So, I shout, ‘Put those things the f*** down or you’ll be in jail’.

“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 and they were going to arrest these people. There were lengthy statements and police reports, and Haile’s just relying on hearsay as he wasn’t there at the time.”

Gebrselassie intensified the dispute earlier today when he claimed that Farah had been responsible for an attack. The two-times Olympic champion, who also boasts four world titles on the track, told The Guardian: “Farah punched and kicked them... especially the husband.

“There were lots of witnesses. He cannot deny it because there were enough people inside the gym who saw the action.

“When he reacted to the two athletes in the gym and he kicked and punched them, he was almost in police custody. But I said, ‘This is

Mo Farah, he is a big athlete, he is an international name. Leave him’.

“I am very, very sad. I loved this guy but he has tried to destroy my name. Always when he does something wrong or whatever we take care of him, because he is a big name. He treated us the wrong way.”

Farah has denied initial claims from Gebrselassie that he had left the hotel with a £2,100 bill unpaid or that he had been guilty of “disgraceful conduct” during the length

of his stay. But a spokesperson for Farah again dismissed the latest allegations today. “As stated already, Mo disputes Haile Gebrselassie’s claims,” she said. “There was an incident at the gym a number of weeks ago, at which Haile was not present but it was categorically not of Mo’s making.

“He immediately raised a complaint to the highest level within the police force. The individuals concerned were warned that any further threatening behaviour towards Mo would result in police action. The incident highlights again the failure by hotel management to take safety seriously.”

The verbal toing and froing between Farah and Gebrselassie began when Farah claimed he had a Tag watch, an anniversary gift from his wife Tania, £2,600 in cash and two mobile phones stolen from a bag in his room at the Yaya Village Resort on his birthday, March 23. Angered by what he said was Gebrselassie’s failure to reply to his messages, Farah went public during a London Marathon press conference yesterday.

But Gebrselassie, a two-times Olympic champion and four-times world gold medallist on the track, accused Farah in a damning counter statement of “deceit information” and an “unproven claim of robbery”. He also claimed the message from Farah had been “like an act of blackmailing and accusation”.

But Lough said: “This has been twisted and I’m narked about it. [Mo] feels violated. It’s a present from his wife and he’s frustrated because no one’s taken his complaint seriously. Haile’s not really done anything about it.”

Farah is adamant that the very public fall-out will not affect him over the course of the 26.2miles as he bids to stop Eliud Kipchoge from winning the London Marathon for a fourth time.

“This won’t affect me on Sunday,” said Farah. “Training’s almost been perfect. I’m happy and I’m ready.”

Gebrselassie has not responded to the latest claims.