Olympic star Mo Farah showed US customs officials his gold medals in an attempt to be released from detention but "they wouldn't have it".
The double gold medallist moved to America last year and revealed that despite his international fame he frequently gets stopped at customs because of his Somali origin.
Farah, who moved to Britain with his father when he was eight, told the Sun on Sunday: "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 long-distance runner also said he was "blown away" at being made a CBE, but admits that missing out on a podium spot in the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) was "difficult to get my head around".
The Team GB poster boy was rewarded for his Olympic efforts in the New Year Honours list, announced on Saturday.
"I'm blown away. I'm honoured," said Farah.
"For me, 2012 is done and it's time to look ahead. But I'll never forget what everyone in Team GB achieved."
The honour comes after the popular athlete missed out on a top three position in the SPOTY awards earlier this month, despite coming third last year before his wins at the London Games.
He said: "This year I had achieved the most I possibly could and didn't even get third again, let alone a higher spot. I mean, there's nothing more I could have done."
He recognised it was "such a strong year" and praised SPOTY winner Sir Bradley Wiggins as a "phenomenal athlete".