Multiple world record holder Haile Gebrselassie has heightened his dispute with four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah by alleging the Briton “punched and kicked” a husband and wife at Gebrselassie's hotel.
The remarkable war of words between the distance running greats exploded in full public view yesterday.
Farah alleged that while staying at Gebrselassie's Yaya Africa Athletics Village in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, where he had been conducting his preparations for the London Marathon, he returned to his room on his 36th birthday – March 23 – to discover he had been burgled.
The 2018 Chicago Marathon winner claimed a watch, bought by his wife as a present, had been stolen along with two mobile phones and money amounting to £2,500 in four currencies.
Farah, speaking at the conclusion of a press conference prior to competing at the London Marathon on Sunday (April 28), said he had been left disappointed in the Ethiopian.
The 36-year-old made the claim unprompted and said Gebrselassie had been unwilling to help.
The dispute escalated spectacularly when two-time Olympic 10,000 metres champion Gebrselassie, who set 27 world records during his brilliant career, responded, dismissing Farah's comments as "deceit".
Gebrselassie claimed he and his hotel had offered "unreserved support and commitment regarding his (Farah's) unproven claim".
He went on to criticise the conduct of Farah at the hotel, adding that he had mediated after an alleged incident between the Briton and another athlete.
Farah denies the allegation.
Gebrselassie, the former President of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, furthered his claims today by claiming Farah had been involved in a separate incident with a husband and wife in the hotel’s gym.
"Mo got into an argument with the husband while he was in the gym and he was hitting and kicking him and then the wife tried to intervene,” Gebrselassie said, according to Sky News.
"She ended up getting hit and kicked.
“A complaint was made to the police.
“The police showed up at the hotel at about 10pm and I was called by the hotel manager.
"I spoke to the police and I was saying 'Mo is good, it is good to have him in Ethiopia, it is good that he comes here'.
"I managed to mediate between them and the police didn't end up speaking to Mo himself."
According to The Guardian, Farah’s coach Gary Lough admitted there had been an incident.
However, he stated Farah had been acting in self-defence after an Ethiopian male athlete had allegedly threatened his training partner, before the latter's wife allegedly approached holding dumbbells.
The fracas supposedly began when Farah was performing exercises, which were then copied deliberately by the Ethiopian athlete in front of the four-time Olympic champion.
Lough said Farah had already made up with the athlete involved.
"As stated already, Mo disputes Haile Gebrselassie's claims,” a spokesperson for Farah told The Guardian.
“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.
“This incident highlights again the failure by hotel management to take safety seriously."
Gebrselassie had claimed yesterday that he had initially "opted to be quiet" about Farah's behaviour after "considering his status and the good people of England".
He changed his mind, however, after Farah had made the dispute public.
Further allegations were made by Gebrselassie, including that Farah, winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award in 2017, having been given a 50 per cent discount for his stay, had left without paying a service bill of $3,000 (£2,300).
Gebrselassie had said the alleged burglary had been immediately reported to police, with five employees claimed to have been taken into custody for five weeks.
He revealed the employees were later released after being cleared.
A spokesman for Farah had claimed Gebrselassie’s allegations had been an attempt to distance the Ethiopian and his hotel from the incident.