PORTLAND -- Mo Farah, running superstar and Somali-born citizen of Great Britain, told British media about getting detained by U.S. Customs as a potential terrorist threat while heading to Portland to visit his family for Christmas.
Farah said this isn't the first time he's had challenges with U.S. Customs officials.
“I couldn’t believe it. Because of my Somali origin I get detained every time I come through US Customs. This time I even got my medals out to show who I am, but they wouldn’t have it,” the British paper, The Sun, quoted Farah saying.
Alberto Salazar, running legend and Farah's coach in Portland, told KGW's news partner The Oregonian that British newspapers blew the whole incident out of proportion and that it was simply a "routine questioning."
Farah won the 10,000 and 5,000 meters in the London 2012 Olympics and trains with Olympic Silver Medalist Galen Rupp whose prep alma mater is Central Catholic High in Portland.
The Sun went on to quote Farah talking about past U.S. Customs headaches: “When we tried to get a residency visa, Nike obviously signed it all off and we thought it was going to be straightforward. We were in Portland on a tourist visa so had to leave and re-enter the country as a resident. So we flew to Toronto to stay for a few days, then come back in. But when we were there we got a letter telling us we’re under investigation as a terrorist threat and we would have to stay away for 90 days."
The paper then says Farah got in touch with Salazar.
“As luck would have it Alberto has a friend who works for the FBI. This guy happens to be a massive running fan, knew exactly who I was and got it sorted then and there," the paper quoted Farah saying.“God knows what would have happened if he didn’t. We’d probably still be in Toronto.”
KGW has called U.S. Customs for more information and will continue to update this story.