ANDY VERNON insisted he has ‘no hatred’ towards Mo Farah after the duo’s war of words reached new heights yesterday.
The Stubbington athlete was involved in a heated Twitter spat with Great Britain team-mate Farah earlier this week.
Recently-crowned 2014 News Sports Awards sportsman of the year Vernon suggested the field for Farah’s race at today’s Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix was a ‘joke’.
That sparked a furious response from the Olympic champion distance runner, who labelled his rival ‘an embarrassment’.
But their feud intensified when Farah used his pre-race press conference to claim Vernon had commented on his eligibility to compete at last summer’s European Championships while in host city Zurich.
The duo finished first and second respectively in the 10,000m.
Farah, who moved from Somalia to Britain at the age of nine, said: ‘One comment he (Vernon) 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 just kind of biting my tongue at the time.’
However, speaking to The News, Vernon defended his remarks and insisted he holds no grudge with Farah.
‘I have no hatred towards Mo and I don’t dislike him at all,’ said Vernon.
‘I met Mo in 2003 and have known him for 12 years.
‘I do consider him very British – I have raced against him for years and years now.
‘He has been the rise of British athletics and British distance running and I completely respect everything that he has done in the sport.’
Vernon, though, maintained Farah – who is the current Olympic, world and European champion in both the 5,000 and 10,000m – twisted his words in an attempt to deflect attention away from their online row.
He said: ‘This is 100 per cent a misrepresentation of any words that were exchanged.
‘I’m not really sure why he (Farah) has gone this low to almost lie about what was said.
‘It looks like it’s a clever PR stunt – it gets all the negativity off of him and on to me.
‘It was all light-hearted – that night in Zurich the whole team was in high spirits, laughing and joking and watching athletics while eating dinner.
‘It was a day or two after the 10k but as a joke, and 100 per cent a joke, I said: “Oh, Mo I’m the European champion”, and that was the extent of it.
‘Now he has said I’ve said he didn’t deserve to win his gold medal, that he should have given it to me and that I don’t consider him British.
‘It is absolutely ridiculous.
‘I didn’t say anything like that.
‘It is 100 per cent a misrepresentation – it’s fabrication.
‘It’s not very nice to be falsely labelled as something – it’s not me at all.
‘That is not who I am. He has tried to portray me wrongly.
‘I had drawn a line under everything until yesterday.’