Mo Farah has sensationally revealed that he was trafficked into Britain and spent his early years here in domestic servitude.
The Olympic champion completely overturns the already extraordinary story of his life in a BBC documentary, The Real Mo Farah, which will be broadcast tomorrow night.
Far from him coming to the UK to live with his father, his father was in fact dead – a victim of the civil war in his native Somalia.
And, incredibly, Mo Farah is not even his real name.
The original back story was that he arrived in Britain as an eight-year-old and lived with an aunt and uncle because his father showed little interest in him.
Equipped with just three English phrases – ‘Excuse me’, ‘Where is the toilet?’ and ‘C’mon then’ – he was enrolled in a tough junior school in the predominantly white area of Feltham, west London, where his refusal to be cowed meant he was forever getting into fights.
His troubled upbringing was splashed across the papers after he achieved a golden double – in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres – at the 2012 Games in London.
But it was far from the full story. Yes, Sir Mo Farah, as he is today, was born in wartorn Somalia. But almost everything else about his early life is fiction.
Most sensational of all is the bombshell that the young Mo did not come to this country legally.
Instead, he was ‘trafficked’ into Britain and spent years in domestic servitude, forced to be a skivvy for the family of the woman who brought him here.
The Olympic champion pictured with wife Tania after being honoured at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in November 2017
Sir Mo Farah holds a union jack aloft as he celebrates winning gold in the Men’s 5000m Final on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games
An undated picture of Mo Farah as a young boy in Somaliland before being trafficked into Britain, where he spent his early years in domestic servitude
Sir Mo Farah holding up a picture of himself as a child during the filming of the BBC documentary The Real Mo Farah, which airs on Wednesday night
Mo Farah says he was trafficked into UK and spent years in domestic servitude. Pictured: Sir Mo with his mother Aisha during filming
Mo Farah, the real Mo Farah, talking to Olympic runner Mo Farah whose real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin during filming for the documentary
Sir Mo pictured in his trademark pose after winning the Men’s 3000m Final during day one of the Anniversary Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2015
Sir Mo kneels as he is made a Knight Bachelor of the British Empire by the Queen at a Buckingham Palace ceremony in November 2017
‘There is a something about me you don’t know,’ Sir Mo tells us at the beginning of the BBC programme. ‘It’s a secret I’ve been hiding since I was a child. And to be able to face it and talk about the facts, how it happened, why it happened, is tough.
‘The truth is I’m not who you think I am. And now, whatever the cost, I need to tell the real story.’
Over the course of the next soul-searching hour, Sir Mo, 39, does just that.
At one point, he produces his visa document, saying: ‘Yeah that’s my photo, but it’s not my name.’
In fact, Sir Mo was born Hussein Abdi Kahin, something he only fully comprehended much later – and is still struggling to make sense of.
Since his harrowing childhood in west London – ‘when I would lock myself in the bathroom and cry and there was nobody there to help’ – he has found contentment as a family man with wife Tania and their four children.
Certainly, the various books written about him – including his own autobiography – will have to be adapted in the light of the disclosures.
Contrary to what has been penned, Sir Mo began life on a farm in Somalia with his biological parents, Abdi and Aisha, and his siblings, including twin brother Hassan.
The family was torn apart, however, when his father died in the war when Mo was four.
Separated from his mother, he and Hassan were sent to live with relatives in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
The original back story was that he arrived in Britain as an eight-year-old and lived with an aunt and uncle because his father showed little interest in him
But almost everything else about his early life is fiction. Most sensational of all is the bombshell that the young Mo did not come to this country legally
Instead, he was ‘trafficked’ into Britain and spent years in domestic servitude, forced to be a skivvy – if not a slave – for the family of the woman who brought him here
At one point in the BBC documentary on his upbringing, Sir Mo produces his visa document, saying: ‘Yeah that’s my photo, but it’s not my name’
The Olympian’s family was torn apart when his father died in the war when Mo was four. He was then trafficked in Britain and spent his childhood in domestic servitude
Sir Mo Farah with his brothers during the filming in Somaliland of the BBC documentary The Real Mo Farah, which will be broadcast at 9pm on Wednesday
Sir Mo speaks with his brother Hassan and mother Aisha (pictured holding a photograph) during filming for the BBC documentary The Real Mo Farah
Few could have imagined what lay ahead.
One day, the youngster was told he would be going to stay with other relatives in Europe. In fact, he was smuggled into the UK as an illegal immigrant under a false passport bearing his new identity ‘Mo Farah’ – a name that had been stolen from another child.
He reveals that when he arrived in the UK he was made to carry out household chores for the family of the woman who brought him to London.
Sir Mo, who was knighted in 2017, says: ‘I had all the contact details for my relatives and once we got to her house, the lady took it off me and right in front of me ripped them up and put it in the bin and at that moment I knew I was in trouble.’
Whether the woman had invented Sir Mo’s alleged relatives, or kept him from them, is unclear.
He adds: ‘If I wanted food in my mouth my job was to look after those kids, shower them, cook for them, clean for them, and she said “If you ever want to see your family again, don’t say anything. If you say anything, they will take you away”.’
The woman at the centre of the controversy did not respond to the BBC’s requests for comment.
The Olympics legend says he escaped from his terrible predicament only after confiding in his PE teacher Alan Watkinson.
He was then put in contact with social services and moved in with a schoolfriend’s mother, Kinsi.
Finally happy and cared for, he remained there for the next seven years. The teacher who came to Sir Mo’s rescue also helped him to get UK citizenship. It was then that his athletic talent began to shine through – and from here, his story becomes the one we know.
In the documentary, Sir Mo, who gave his name Hussein to one of his children, gets to meet in a video call the ‘real’ Mo Farah, the man whose identity he falsely assumed all those years ago.
Shortly before that moving clip, Sir Mo says of him: ‘I often think about the other Mohammed Farah, the boy whose place I took on the plane and I really hope he’s OK.
‘Wherever he is, I carry his name and that could cause problems now for me and my family.’
Sir Mo celebrates with Usain Bolt victory in the Men’s 5000m final on day fifteen of the London Olympic Games in 2012
Sir Mo celebrates as he crosses the finishing line to take gold in the 10,000m Men’s Final during day one of the 2017 IAAF World Championships
Sir Mo celebrated with a Union Jack flag after winning the Men’s 10,000 metres at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing
Sir Mo celebrates after winning the Men’s 5000m and 10,000m at the Olympic Stadium on the fifteenth day of the Rio Olympic Games in August 2016
In their subsequent meeting, the two Mos exchange jokes, with the ‘real’ Mo admitting that he was never any good at running although, like his famous counterpart, he is an Arsenal fan. He adds that, unlike Sir Mo, he is unmarried and childless.
Their call ends with Sir Mo promising that he will try to make it possible for the man to come to the UK and meet him.
So why has it taken so long for the truth to come out?
In the programme, we see a barrister tell Sir Mo that – even though he was a blameless child, and social services had been informed of the truth of his situation – there was still a ‘real risk’ he could be stripped of his British citizenship.
This was because there were ‘false representations’ that meant his nationality was obtained by fraud.
Sir Mo then tells his wife: ‘I don’t think I was ever ready to say anything, not because you want to lie but because you are protecting yourself.’ It is understood that he is now seeking legal advice on how to engage with the Home Office.
Officials confirmed however that ‘no action whatsoever will be taken against Sir Mo and to suggest otherwise is wrong’.
This extraordinary tale is not the first time Sir Mo has been embroiled in controversy. In 2015 it was revealed that he had missed two drug tests – in 2010 and 2011 – in the buildup to the Olympics.
And the BBC’s Panorama revealed two years ago that he had received a performance-enhancing supplement before the 2014 London Marathon, which he failed to declare.
He has always insisted he is a ‘clean’ athlete and claimed he genuinely forgot about the supplement, which is not banned if taken below a certain dosage.
‘I can sleep at night knowing I have done nothing wrong,’ he said at the time.
So why has Sir Mo finally decided to reveal his secret past? The reason, he says, is because of his children – he wanted them to know the truth.
‘Family means everything to me, and you know as a parent, you always teach your kids to be honest,’ he says. ‘But I feel like I’ve always had that private thing where I could never be me and tell what’s really happened.
‘I’ve been keeping it in for so long. It’s been difficult because you don’t want to face it and often my kids ask questions “Dad, how come this?” And you’ve always got an answer for everything, but you haven’t got an answer for that.
‘That’s the main reason in telling my story, because I want to feel normal … and not feel like you’re holding on to something.’