Woyanne Blackmailing, Wiretapping Haile Gebrselassie – By JERÉ LONGMAN ( New York Times )

November 16th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, the distance-running star who stunningly announced his retirement after dropping out of the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7, said Monday that he had reconsidered and would continue racing.

“Running is in my blood, and I decided to continue competing,” Gebrselassie wrote on his Twitter account. “My announcement in New York was my first reaction after a disappointing race.”

Jos Hermens, Gebrselassie’s agent, said from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, that Gebrselassie had reacted emotionally after leaving the New York course at 16 miles of the 26.2-mile race. He also felt guilty for having dropped out of a half-marathon in New York earlier this year.

“He wasn’t thinking when he said he wanted to stop,” Hermens said. “He was too emotional.”

Hermens also provided new details about the injury that caused Gebrselassie to drop out of the race, describing it as more of a muscular problem than a knee problem, as New York City Marathon officials had reported.

Hermens also suggested that Gebrselassie’s emotional decision to retire might have stemmed in part from political pressure he was feeling in Ethiopia. His phone has been tapped by government officials and he has faced some sort of blackmail attempt, Hermens said of his client.

“There is a lot of pressure on him in Ethiopia,” Hermens said of Gebrselassie. “I don’t know all the details.”

Gebrselassie could not be reached by phone Monday, and it was impossible to confirm independently the accusations about phone-tapping and blackmail.

Ethiopia held national elections in May, and the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was accused by opposition figures of intimidation, harassment and vote rigging.

The Ethiopian Review, an opposition online journal based in Washington, reported this month that the prime minister’s wife and her associates were attempting to force partnerships with Gebrselassie on a new hotel that he had built and on other real estate ventures.

The mayor of Addis Ababa, an ally of the prime minister and his wife, had also recently ordered the confiscation of land that had been leased to Gebrselassie, the journal reported, citing sources in Addis Ababa.

Officials at the Ethiopian embassy in Washington could not be reached for comment.

In one of the world’s poorest countries, Gebrselassie, who has made a lucrative career from running, has become one of the most visible and popular figures. He employs more than 600 people in various businesses and has built two schools. He has also spoken about the possibility of seeking political office once his running days are over.

Frustration over the injury and political tensions perhaps led Gebrselassie to overreact after dropping out of the New York marathon, Hermens said.

“All this pressure came out; he was emptying his heart,” Hermens said.

Once Gebrselassie returned home, many of his countrymen urged him to continue running as an inspiration to Ethiopia’s youth, Hermens said. Having set 27 world records and won 2 Olympic gold medals at 10,000 meters, Gebrselassie is widely considered the greatest distance runner ever. He holds the world record for the marathon: 2 hours 3 minutes 59 seconds.

“In Ethiopia, there were discussions on radio and TV, and people were saying he had to continue, that he was an important role model,” Hermens said. “He just needs time to fuel his battery again.”

Gebrselassie next plans to run the Tokyo Marathon in February and wants to compete in the 2012 Olympic marathon in London. Although his reputation is secure, he has yet to show that he can win a marathon against a deep field of elite competitors. His fastest times have come with pacesetters on flat courses in races that were time trials more than competitions.

About a month before the New York City Marathon, Gebrselassie felt some pain in the quadriceps near its attachment by tendon to the right kneecap, Hermens said. Massage seemed to cure the problem and Gebrselassie thought he was in tremendous condition for the race, Hermens said.

Six days before the marathon, though, Gebrselassie went for a final training run, apparently overexerted himself and again felt pain, Hermens said, adding, “That’s the problem with athletes, they always want to push more, more, more.”

The pain had ebbed, but it flared on a final run the day before the marathon, and Gebrselassie underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test and had fluid drained from the quadriceps, Hermens said. New York officials described the injury as tendinitis after Gebrselassie dropped out.

With tears in his eyes, Gebrselassie announced that he was retiring, saying he was tired of complaining.

“He was so disappointed, he just broke down mentally,” Hermens said.

  1. T. Goshu
    | #1

    I do not think TPLF is wire- tapping or spying on Haile for any political suspition . It may rather be related to conflict of interests between him and some elements of top members of the ruling circle. As Haile has been very close to those elements, they definately will keep their eyes and ears on him because they may be afraid that he may leak some confidential information about their ugly face of corrupt . Time will tell!

    Concerning the change of his mind about his contest, it is up to him to do so. Yes, it will be so great if he has a courage to get out of the dirty political game he is muddling and stay with the people of Ethiopia who have given him a huge encouragement beieving that he would never put himself in a state of political madness. If he makes up his mind and keep diong what is professionally and morally desirable, that will be so fantastic. Otherwise, the very dirty political drama he is intentionally or unintentionally joining and behaving will have a tragic ( an extremely disgracful) consequence.

  2. hagos
    | #2

    Phones of public figures are routinely tapped in Ethiopia….

  3. idiot dictator
    | #3

    You all know there is no freedom in Ethiopia. Freedom is a rare commodity in our backward country. The gov. taps all calls that they have interest on. They don’t know the meaning of invasion. What do you expect from forest gangsters that have no clue about democracy? This idiot dictators would interfere with anybodys freedom as long as it favors them. Anyway Haile should not be involved in politics. The tough oppositions figures in the AEUP are doing the fight. He should help them by bringing their problem to the international arena instead of trying to become a leader. He should be the opposition ambasodor.Haile does not have the qualities or expertise to become a country leader. Are we crazy we are talking about this? Not even meles and his online fake education is doing the job. We need a highly educated leader. Just because someone has got a college degree should they be qualified to be a leader.Don’t you guys see that from Meles. He is a good example.

  4. This what dictators do
    | #4

    This is not surprising…How can we expect any less from a TPLF dictator that has given orders hundreds of thousands of innocent Ethiopians to be thrown in jail in every province, and to be tortured and killed—the most hateful man that has given the most fertile land, and our ports to outsiders—a penniless tyrant that has looted poor Ethiopians to became a multimillionaire after a few years taken power while fifteen to twelve millions of Ethiopians expected to die from lack of adequate food, water and medicine—-a ruthless man that has taken freedom of speech and press and so on and so forth.

  5. Drama
    | #5

    IT IS HAILE’S FRIENDS FROM THE DIASPORA NETWORK THAT IS PUTTING HAILE IN THIS “ATABKIGN” SITUATION. REMEMBER THE SCRAFY BUSINESS NETWORK ELENI GMARIAM AND THE NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER FEDERATION ARE INVOLVED IN? THEY ARE ALL ONE CIRCLE AND HAILE NEEDS TO RUN AWAY FROM THESE DIGUSTING IMMATURE BUSINESS MAN WANNABE SAILOUTS.

  6. GIVE US A BREAK!!!!!!!!
    | #6

    Why woyane do this while Haile working tirelesly for them. WHY WOYANE DO THAT. AN AXCEPTABLE FOR ME. IT IS NOT LONG AGO THE SO CALLED HAILE GAVE HIS UNIFORM HE WARE WHEN HE WIN. IT IS NOT LONG AGO HAILE CHOSE TO BE SILENT WHEN OUR HERO THROWN TO JAIL BY THE CAUSE HE WAS “YEHAGER SHIMALE” WHY WOYANE WIRE TAPING THIS ILLITRATE WHY. GIVE US A BREAK……..

  7. Abegaz
    | #7

    Idiot diactator,

    You wrote some good points but some of them are clashing with each other. I want to give you my humble opinion.

    “Anyway Haile should not be involved in politics.”

    I agree. well said.

    “The tough oppositions figures in the AEUP are doing the fight.”

    Yes, true.

    “He should help them by bringing their problem to the international arena instead of trying to become a leader. He should be the opposition ambasodor.”

    This is contradictory to your first statemnt. In fact Haile should stay away from politics. He can advance the causes of good governance by staying nuetral and away from politics. Diaspora should not pressure Haile to baby sit them. This is not right. Let him follow his mind in his own way to serve Ethiopia. Let us stop bla bla about Haile.

    “Haile does not have the qualities or expertise to become a country leader”

    This is right. And Haile should be told about this. In a political system which is not open like Ethiopia, Haile should not even think of going to politics.

  8. yalewe
    | #8

    yes you don’t know that wayane intercept all opostion party and known person phone by his security office near mexico sequer in front of ORBIS COMPANY.WEYANE USE THIS BUILDING FOR INTERSEPT PHONE BUT I AM SAD THAT ANY OPPOSTION PARTY IN THE COUNTRY THEY DON’T KNOW THAT EVEN KNOW WEYANE INTERSEPET BERTUKAN’S HOUSE PHONE. SO THIS IS NOT A NEW THING

  9. annanymouse
    | #9

    Poor Haile, unlike the aiga jungle looters, Haile earned his respect in a wide world of spectators rather in the aiga jungle; but sorry to this Mr. Haile, if you continue to live the midst of aiga jungle looters then you must expect to be looted, harassed, imprisoned, and my be executed. Run Haile run!!

  10. werg
    | #10

    P.S. Ato Ledetu explains about the deception being played by Dr. Berhanu

  11. eyob
    | #11

    it’s a wasting time for me to read this useless articles. Please know what you write or talk.

  12. washeraw
    | #12

    Haile should stay away from politics because, until very recently, he seemd to be the ONLY UNIFYING FIGURE IN ETHIOPIA.

    He is probably the only rich man in Ethiopia who can proudly claim that he made his money in an honest manner. He risks losing this reputation if he strays too far in the direction of Melles and Azeb.

    I am not surprised by the phone tapping story. Is there anyone remotely involved in national affairs in Ethiopia whose phone was not tapped at one time or the other? Is this not the main reason why Melles will never allow the private sector into the telecom business?

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