Mo Farah has revealed he was illegally trafficked to the UK as a child, forced to change his name and work as a domestic servant.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist, born in what is now Somaliland, told the BBC he was eight or nine years old when he was sent with his brother to live with an uncle in neighbouring Djibouti for their own safety.
From there he was flown to the UK by a woman he had never met and was not related to. It was at this time he was given fake travel documents with the name Mohamed Farah, taken from another child.
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Farah – whose real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin – was forced in domestic servitude in the woman’s house in Hounslow, west London. He was eventually rescued after confiding in a PE teacher, Alan Watkinson, who spotted his talent for long-distance running and also helped him to apply for British citizenship using his assumed name.
He became a British citizen in 2000, at the same time as he was reunited with his family after he began appearing on television and was recognised by members of the Somali community, who contacted his mother, Aisha.
Watkinson would go on to be the best man at Farah’s wedding, while the athlete named his son Hussein in acknowledgement of his roots.
The revelations are laid bare in what The Sun described as a “bombshell” new BBC One documentary, The Real Mo Farah, which airs at 9pm on Wednesday evening.
Sky News reported that Farah was warned by a barrister that there remains a “real risk” his British nationality could be taken away.
“Legally, the government can remove a person’s British nationality if their citizenship was obtained through fraud,” said the BBC. However, the Home Office confirmed on Monday night that he would not face any repercussions.
“No action whatsoever will be taken against Sir Mo and to suggest otherwise is wrong,” a spokesperson said.
The Daily Mirror said there are up to 100,000 trafficking victims currently in the UK.
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