Sir Mo Farah was almost arrested and thrown in a police cell following an extraordinary fracas in an Ethiopian gym, it was claimed last night.
Mamo Alemu was on duty as manager at the Yaya Africa Athletics Village last month when there was an altercation between the four-time Olympic gold medallist and two other athletes – Sisay Tsegaye and his wife Dagmawit Kibiru.
Mr Alemu told The Mail on Sunday: ‘When I arrived at the gym, it was chaos. The police had been called and the first thing they said was, ‘‘Mo is going to be arrested and taken into custody’’.
As soon as Mo heard that, he started apologising to the couple. He said, ‘‘It was my fault, I got angry, I’m sorry. It was my mistake.’’ But the woman was shouting at him, ‘‘I’m going to press charges. You attacked me.’’
‘Her husband had been punched and kicked, and tears were streaming down his face. He was really upset and angry. He was saying to Mo, ‘‘This is my country. We have done nothing wrong. Why have you punched and kicked us?’’ I told the police officer that I could vouch for Mo and there was no need for him to get locked up.’
A spokeswoman for Sir Mo denied the athlete had been close to being arrested.
Mr Alemu, 34, claimed police knew Sir Mo after being called to a previous clash between the athlete, who is due to compete in today’s London Marathon, and Yaya gym trainer Chala Diriba.
Recalling that fracas, Mr Diriba claimed: ‘We were both exercising in the gym when Farah started pushing me away from the equipment towards the door. He grabbed me by the throat. He was saying that I was stealing his routine and would use it to coach Ethiopian athletes when he was gone. He told me he didn’t want to see me in the gym again. After that, whenever Mo came into the gym I would just leave.’
The dramatic accounts follow days of claims and counter-claims over recent events at the exclusive Yaya Village resort in Addis Ababa, which is owned by Haile Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic 10,000m champion.
Sir Mo, 36, claimed he had been the victim of robbery while staying at the resort, but Gebrselassie said he had left without settling his bill after attacking Mr Tsegaye and Ms Kibiru. Sir Mo’s coach Gary Lough then said the athlete had been acting in self-defence.
Last night, Gebrselassie, 46, showed The Mail on Sunday a letter from Farah’s lawyer demanding more than £9,000 in compensation for his losses. But he said: ‘I’ve not responded and would rather fight the claim in court.’
Sir Mo’s spokeswoman said Mr Diriba’s claims of an earlier altercation were ‘totally false’.
Source: Daily Mail