Sir Mo Farah, who failed in his bid to win the London Marathon, has revealed he left a hotel owned by Haile Gebrselassie without paying his bill because the credit card machine was out-of-order.
Farah, 36, was questioned by reporters about his public spat with the Ethiopian Olympic legend after the London race saw him finishing in fifth place.
The star athlete said he ‘had not been distracted’ by the bust up with Gebrselassie, but blamed the hotel for him not being to pay his outstanding bill.
Farah, 36, was questioned by reporters about his public spat with the Ethiopian Olympic legend after the London race saw him finishing in fifth place
The row erupted last week after the British athlete said he had been robbed at the hotel in Addis Ababa.
In a dispute which simmered and boiled over with claim and counter claim Gebrselassie, who won two Olympic golds, said Farah was now his ‘enemy’ and had not met an outstanding bill before leaving the training complex.
Farah today said he tried to pay the remaining £2178 bill for his stay at the Yaya Village hotel with his credit card, but was foiled by a faulty machine.
In a dispute which simmered and boiled over with claim and counter claim Gebrselassie, who won two Olympic golds, said Farah was now his ‘enemy’ and had not met an outstanding bill (pictured) before leaving the training complex
But tonight Gebrselassie’s management denied their machine had been out of operation and questioned his version of events.
Yaya Hotel marketing manager Alazar Mada said: ‘We don’t understand why Mo Farah has said that the credit card machine.
‘Really, we have to laugh at that because he never came into the reception before he left. He never checked out with us.’
He admitted the credit card machine had, at times, been inoperative due to network problems, but these periods rarely lasted more than a few minutes.
‘If Mo Farah had come into see us, we would have found an alternative way for him to settle his bill.
The Yaya Village hotel owned by the retired distance-running great Haile Gebrselassie, outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
‘There is a branch of the Ethiopian Commercial Bank here at the hotel where he could have paid his bill by getting cash.
‘We have had guests having problems before, of course, where their credit cards are not working or have been lost and we try to help them.
‘We always respect Mo Farah. He is a world-known athlete and we would have been happy to help him. But he never came into reception to settle his bill and it is still outstanding.’
Sir Mo Farah runs towards the finish line during the Men’s Elite race during the Virgin Money London Marathon
Farah was angered by what he saw as a lack of proper attention from Gebrselassie after he reported the theft of his watch and cash from his room at the training complex.
The four times Olympic gold medallist directly reported the robbery to Gebrselassie, but went public with his anger over the incident at a London Marathon press conference last Wednesday.
He then hit Gebrselassie with a new £9,000 compensation bill, as revealed by MailOnline.
Farah, 36, has sent a claim through Ethiopian lawyers demanding 323,451.48 Birr (£9241) for the loss of his valuables.
Gebrselassie showed off the legal claim as well as the text message Farah sent him warning him he was going to alert the media to the hotel robbery.
The text message ended years of friendship with Gebrselassie declaring he now regarded Farah, a four times Olympic gold medalist, as his ‘enemy.’
Haile Gebrselassie spoke to reporters at the Yaya Athletes Village near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He admitted the credit card machine had, at times, been inoperative due to network problems, but these periods rarely lasted more than a few minutes. ‘If Mo Farah had come into see us, we would have found an alternative way for him to settle his bill,’ he said
Gebrselassie, 46, who was appearing in public for the first time since Farah sparked the dispute said he did not question Farah’s claims and had ordered a thorough investigation at his Yaya Village Hotel
But he added: ‘I wasn’t there. I don’t’ know what to believe.
‘But i was surprised he contacted me when he could have spoken to my manager.
‘I have others hotels, 1100 staff and many other guests. I opened this hotel for guests – not for Mo Farah. ‘
Gebrselassie, who won golds at Atlanta and Sydney in 1996 and 2000 in the 10,000 metres, said although Farah had stayed at his complex three or four times, he would not be welcomed back because he was unpopular with his staff.
‘Look, I am very disappointed and this problem it is hurting a lot.
It is also bad for Mo Farah. He is an athlete who is known the world over.’
He said Farah had been well treated at the hotel, offered discounts but had left without meeting a remaining bill.
He added: ‘Five of my staff were held in jail for more than fortnight and that hurts me. I should have gone to visit them and helped them and I have said sorry to them.
‘I gave Mo Farah all the help I could. But he needs to know I wasn’t at the hotel and the police investigation is still open.’
Four of the five staff have since resigned saying they were unhappy with the way they were treated. None of the arrested five have been proved to have been involved in the theft.
The only one of the five not to resign was chambermaid Abebech Gradisa, 23, who told MailOnline she was innocent and felt Farah should apologise to her.
Farah claims room 133 where he had stayed for three months was broken into and thieves stole a Tag watch, two mobile phones and about £2,600 cash in four currencies.
Chambermaid and young mother Abebech Gadisa, 23, who spent 16 days in jail after being accused of stealing Sir Mo Farah’s missing watch and money
But for Abebech and four colleagues it meant more than a fortnight in a prison cell where they had to sleep on the floor, shower from a bucket and have food brought into them because of the poor quality on offer in their cell at Sululta police station.
Farah made his complaint on March 24 after he had been on a Sunday training run and left his locked case inside his locked room. He then checked out for the last week of his stay and moved into new accommodation.
Farah, the double Olympic gold Medallist from London and Rio games, is adamant that he was robbed and has demanded a full investigation by police.
He said the watch was an anniversary present from his wife Tania and it has a special sentimental value.
He claimed cash 20,000 birr (£534), $1500 (£1159), £800, €100 (£86) and two phones were stolen, along with the watch.
He told a London Marathon press conference :‘There was no working safe in the room, hotel staff were dismissive and I had to force the police to investigate.
‘So I sent Haile a message to tell him what had happened but he didn’t reply. He didn’t respond even though that’s his hotel.’
He then sent a stinging text to Gebrselassie saying: ‘I want to inform you I’m disappointed you have not made any effort to find my stolen money, and especially my watch.
‘ 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.’
Mo Farah posted a video of his suitcase to Instagram in March captioned: This was my birthday present. Last Sunday someone linked to Yaya Village Hotel that I am staying at while at training camp used a key from reception and broke into my hotel room. They stole my watch and money. There was no working safe in the room, hotel staff dismissive and uninterested, had force the police to investigate
Aides for both Farah and Gebrselassie had hoped the tension would die down, but Gebrselassie fuelled the row even further by calling him his enemy.
He added: ‘We were good friends. But everything changed when he sent me that message.
‘This all happened a month ago. He was waiting for the world’s media (at the London Marathon). He chose this moment and it was not an accident.
‘I don’t know why he is trying to damage me in this way. He should break world records and not the name of Haile Gebrselassie.’
His staff produced a bill for 81,345 Birr (£2178) which they said was still outstanding on Farah’s account and Gebrselassie said he expected the London Marathon favourite to settle his bill.
Gebrselassie added: ‘I don’t know what will happen next. I have done everything I can. My staff have investigated fully as have the police.
‘I know that Mo Farah had around 10 visitors to the hotel as his guests. They should also speak to the police too.
‘I have other hotels, 1100 staff and many other guests. I didn’t build this hotel for Mo Farah. It is for everybody.
‘He could have spoken to my manager. I wasn’t at the hotel. But I responded. I was also busy and I apologised to him. But we have done everything we can to help the investigation.’
A safe in the star runner’s room had been reported faulty the day before the theft as the batteries were making a whirring noise which has disturbed Farah, but the safe remained in the room.
Hotel staff said Farah chose to keep his valuables in his room instead of safe keeping with the reception.
He was allegedly involved in an altercation with two people in the hotel gym and police were called.
Farah was angered by what he saw as a lack of proper attention from Gebrselassie after he reported the theft of his watch and cash from his room at the training complex
The hotel owner said he had to dissuade police from arresting Farah.
The hotel’s fitness instructor Kennedy Girma said he had witnessed the altercation between Farah and two other gym members.
It allegedly took place between Farah, Dagmawit Kibiru and her husband and trainer, Sisay Tsegaye.
Tsegaye said Farah and his entourage had complained that his marathon training regime was somehow being ‘spied’ upon.
‘I have an injury at the moment so I was in the gym to help train my wife when one of Mo’s training mates started claiming that we were copying his regime,’ Tsegaye said.
‘Then one of them insulted me. I don’t want to state what [he said] because it was rude language.’ Some pushing and shoving ensued.
‘In the middle of that, Mo hit me from behind on my neck. It really was not a serious [punch] but I was angry, so a brawl erupted. Police came to the scene but it was resolved with mediation by the marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa [who got a silver medal at the Rio Olympics].’
‘In all of this, my wife was not hit, as claimed by some people. I am on good terms now with Mo. Generally he is a disciplined athlete, but not some of the people around him.’
He told MailOnline tonight he was not surprised that Farah had failed to win the London Marathon, which was claimed by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge who ran the second fastest marathon in history.
Tsegaye, who used to act as a pacemaker for Farah, said: ‘Kipchoge is too smart a runner for him. I knew he would win.’
Kennedy, speaking to MailOnline, said Farah wanted to protect his training techniques which included an exercise where he would squat with a weight bar.
‘He told me that I must not see his training as I would tell it to Ethiopian athletes.’
But Farah’s coach Gary Lough, who witnessed the fracas, told The Guardian that Farah was acting in self defence after an Ethiopian male athlete appeared to threaten Farah’s training partner – and the athlete’s wife came at him holding dumbbells.
Sir Mo Farah reacts after placing fifth in the Elite Men’s Race during the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon
‘The Ethiopian athlete then moved and looked like he was about to attack Farah’s training partner Bashir Abdi – so Mo tried to protect his friend by swinging a punch’ he said.
He also said that when the scuffle ensued, Farah accidentally struck the wife of the Ethiopian athlete on the arm. The wife then came at Farah holding weights and dumbbells.
Another gym instructor Chala Diriba, 22, said that Farah had pushed him out of the gym in an incident back in 2016 with the same complaint that spying was taking place on his training.
‘I was Ok about it and since then any time he comes in to the gym, I go outside’ he said.
Both Farah and Gebrselassie are consulting with their legal teams as to how to settle the dispute.
Gebrselassie added: ‘I don’t l now what to believe, what to think. I wasn’t there when Mo lost his watch. But I accept it is of very big importance to him as it was from his wife.
‘We have done everything to find the watch and the police investigation is still going on.’
He said he was unhappy that five of his staff were held in a police cell for 16 days and felt as the hotel owner he should have visited them.
He met with two arrested receptionists Hiwot Fikru, 26, and Ephrem Ewenetu, 22, at the weekend and apologised for their arrest.
They have resigned in anger at their arrest and say they did not feel supported by Gebrselassie and the hotel.
Gebrselassie added: ‘I have said sorry to them and it is sad that they do not want to work at the hotel anymore. But Mo Farah will never be welcomed back to the hotel either.’