Tom Connelly, assistant to the New York Times sports editor who assisted Jeré Longman with the story on Haile Gebrselassie told LetsRun.com on Thursday:
The New York Times stands by its story. Jeré reported what he was told. We reported the story correctly.”
LetsRun.com offers the following analysis:
To us, it logically makes zero sense that a sports reporter would make up such a major accusation about the tapping of phone lines. If that’s the case, then the only logical explanation is that both Gebrselsassie and Hermens were strongly encouraged to denounce the story by the powers in charge in Ethiopia — either that or Gebrselassie realized he needed to have Hermens do it soon or he’d have some significant problems on his hands. The question therefore is, “Is this type of coercion common place in Ethiopia and does it make sense that this actually would have happened?”
The answer is yes, it is common for the despot in Ethiopia to extract confessions and statements from citizens.
We can only imagine what Haile is going through — although he is partly responsible. To protect him and other Ethiopian athletes, the IAAF and other international athletic groups need to launch an investigation.