17 Aug 2013

Isinbayeva says gay remark 'misunderstood'

9:45 am on 17 August 2013

Russian pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva has said her comments appearing to support her country's anti-gay laws may have been unclear, as she was speaking in English.

Isinbayeva's trying to limit the fallout from a media interview she made after winning a third pole vault world title in front of her ecstatic home crowd.

She provoked outrage for saying Russians are heterosexuals only, and athletes coming to next February's Winter Olympics in Sochi should respect the law or face the legal consequences.

The 31-year-old now says she was misunderstood, is opposed to any discrimination against homosexuals and "may have been misunderstood" as English is not her first language.

Isinbayeva says what she wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries, particularly when they are guests.

The law in question was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June and punishes the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors but which activists say can be used for a broad crackdown against gays.

The Russian authorities have said all athletes will be free and safe to compete at the Sochi Winter Games regardless of their sexual orientation but must obey Russian law.

The International Olympic Committe has asked the country for clarification, as it appears the law runs counter to the Olympic ideals.