Haile Gebrselassie Speaks About Current Issues
Starting with a new event fronted by Usain Bolt this weekend, athletics will spend 2017 attempting to claw back the fans it lost to the doping scandals unearthed last year. But Haile Gebrselassie – one of track and field’s greatest names – feels athletics is missing Russia more than Russia is missing athletics.
It’s 8am when The Independent meets Haile Gebrselassie at his basement gym in downtown Addis Ababa, the restless capital city of his native Ethiopia. This represents an early appointment for an interview in sports journalism. However the double gold-medallist, who set over 20 world records in a glittering distance running career, has already eaten up 15 miles through the hills and forest by the time we meet.
Gebrselassie retired from competitive running in 2015, but refuses to slow down. The 43-year-old’s latest high altitude “jog” through Yaya Village, 10 miles north of the metropolis, comes on the second day of a three day religious holiday for the East African country. Most of his compatriots are still in bed. Nursing a serious Achilles injury on a chilly morning, he could have pulled up the duvet too. Instead he is not just running, but ready to take questions on the role he is playing in cleaning up doping as the newly appointed head of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation.