Moscow: Russian pole vault legend Yelena Isinbayeva on Saturday attempted to play down the furore provoked by her anti-gay remarks, saying she was "misunderstood" and was opposed to any discrimination against homosexuals.
The 31-year-old issued a statement saying she was "opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality." She said she "may have been misunderstood" as English is not her first language.
Isinbayeva provoked outrage Thursday when, in answer to a question about a Swedish athlete sporting nail varnish in the rainbow colours symbol of gay rights, she fired off an emotional rant in support of Russia`s controversial anti-gay law.
"We just live with boys with women, women with boys," she said in English before adding that athletes coming to next February`s Winter Olympics in Sochi should respect the law or face the legal consequences.
However, following the storm of protest, she issued the statement to clarify her comments.
"English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday," said Isinbayeva, who only on Tuesday had regained her pole vault world title in Moscow after several years in the doldrums.
"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," added Isinbayeva, who is an International Olympic Committee (IOC) ambassador.
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.