Vernon fires back at Farah 'lies' in ugly nationality row

Farah alleged his team-mate suggested he did not deserve the title as he was not European

Guy Aspin
Saturday 21 February 2015 00:20
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Mo Farah has claimed his Great Britain teammate Andy Vernon questioned his nationality
Mo Farah has claimed his Great Britain teammate Andy Vernon questioned his nationality

The feud between Mo Farah and his Great Britain team-mate Andy Vernon escalated last night when the double Olympic champion’s claims that his rival questioned his nationality were described as “complete lies”.

Farah, who beat Vernon to 10,000m gold at the European Championships in Zurich last summer, alleged his team-mate suggested he did not deserve the title as he was not European. Farah made the claims when he was questioned yesterday about a Twitter spat the pair had earlier in the week.

The 31-year-old, who was born in Mogadishu in Somalia before moving to Britain as a child, has apologised for the social media row, but admitted their past contributed to his frustrations boiling over.

Vernon initially admitted making the comments in Zurich, but insisted they were intended as “a joke” among a group of people “having a laugh” and apologised if they were taken out of context. But, after reading in full Farah’s remarks, he labelled them “an outrageous misrepresentation” of their “tongue-in-cheek” chat.

Farah is in Birmingham ahead of a tilt at an indoor world best time over two miles at today’s Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, but the build-up to the meeting has been overshadowed by this row.

Asked about the pair’s history, Farah said: “It happened in the European Championships in Zurich where he came second in the race I won. We were sitting down together and there were a number of staff and athletes there too. One comment he made, which I didn’t really like, was to say that he should have won the gold. I was like, ‘What, the gold should have been given to you?’. And I was like, because he was the only European guy? You can’t say something like that. I was kind of biting my tongue at the time. I don’t know what he meant, but at that point it hurt me. But I moved on. That was private.”

Vernon reacted furiously to the accusations. He said in an interview with BBC Radio Solent: “It’s an outrageous misrepresentation of the chat we had at the Europeans. What I did say was completely tongue-in-cheek – in a jokey environment, we were all having fun, high spirits at the Europeans. It was after our race and I, in a joking way, said, ‘Mo, I’m European champion’.

“That was it. I don’t know where he’s got that I don’t discard [regard] him as British, you don’t deserve to have gold, you should give it to me – it’s complete lies.”

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