Russian Olympian Yelena Isinbayeva Blames Anti-Gay Comments On Poor English
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva catapulted into international headlines on Thursday after blasting the rainbow-painted nails of Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro. Less than 24 hours after making the news, Yelena is blaming the way the comments were construed on her poor English.
"English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday," she said in a statement released Friday.
"What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests. But let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality [which is against the Olympic charter]."
The "clarification" comes at a vital time for Yelena, as calls for the Russian athlete to be removed from her highly-regarded position as mayor of the Sochi Olympic Villages reached fever pitch by Thursday night.
The British heptathlete Louise Hazel called for her to be removed from that position, but the IOC will not be making any rash decisions until clarification has been received.
"You will appreciate that English is not her first language so we want to be absolutely clear about what she said and if that is what she 'meant' to say before we make further comment," a statement said.