Britain’s Mo Farah insisted his highly public dispute with distance great Haile Gebrselassie played no part in his disappointing fifth-placed finish in the London Marathon on Sunday.
Four-time Olympic track champion Farah was looking to build on his third-place in last year’s edition.
But after a row with one African running legend, he had no answer on the streets of the British capital to another as Eliud Kipchoge won a record fourth London title with the second-fastest time of any marathon in history.
The build up to the race was overshadowed by an extraordinary row that became public Wednesday when Farah said he had been robbed while staying at an Addis Ababa hotel owned by Ethiopia star Gebrselassie during pre-London training.
Farah said Gebrselassie made no effort to recover the stolen items.
Gebrselassie – a two-time Olympic champion – hit back by accusing Farah of not paying his heavily discounted hotel bill and told The Guardian on Thursday that Farah had been seen by several people punching and kicking a husband and his wife in the gym.
– ‘Stand by every word’ –
Farah, asked after finishing on Sunday if the row and the ensuing fall-out just days before the race had been a distraction, replied: “Not at all. I stand by every word I said.”
The 36-year-old added: “It’s all coming out now, there are a lot of people to prove that. What happened was the honest truth.
“I’m one of those people – I like to get it off my chest and just say it. It’s become a bit too much but at the same time I stick by every word I said.”
Farah may have been beaten but was far from disgraced in finishing fifth in a time of two hours, five minutes and 39 seconds.
But talk of a challenge to the outstanding Kipchoge ended when the 34-year-old Kenyan pulled clear at the 14-mile mark.
Olympic champion Kipchoge’s time of 2:02:37 seconds was second only to the 2:01:39 he ran in Berlin last year.
Farah tried to respond but lost touch, with the Ethiopian trio of Mosinet Geremew, Mule Wasihun and Tola Shura Kitata taking the places between him and Kipchoge.
“It was hard,” Farah admitted.
“I was running alone out there. I was just trying to push. At one point I thought I was closing that gap but somehow they got further and further away.