UK & World News
Yelena Isinbayeva: Respect Russia's Gay Law
A top Russian athlete has claimed she was "misunderstood" when she apparently spoke out in support of her country's controversial new laws on homosexuality.
Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, 31, made her comments at the world athletics championships in Moscow after other athletes made statements and gestures - including painting their nails in rainbow colours - opposing the Russian law.
The new legislation, which makes it illegal to give under-18s information about homosexuality, has led to calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
"It's disrespectful to our country, disrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians," Isinbayeva told a news conference - in English - after Swedish athlete high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro criticised the law.
"Maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands.
"We have our law which everyone has to respect. When we go to different countries, we try to follow their rules.
"We are not trying to set our rules over there. We are just trying to be respectful.
"We consider ourselves like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys ... it comes from the history."
However, Isinbayeva, who won her third world pole vault title earlier this week, has now suggested she was misunderstood because English is not her first language.
"What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests," she said in a statement.
"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)."
Opponents of the law have called on the International Olympic Committee to remove Isinbayeva from her role as an ambassador for the Youth Olympics.
The double Olympic gold medallist is also due to be the mayor of the main athletes' village at the Sochi Games.
"They (the IOC) should definitely be revising her position as an ambassador," British heptathlete Louise Hazel, who won gold at the 2011 Commonwealth Games, told the BBC.
"I think it should be their first point of call after the [World] Championships are over. Essentially she's being outwardly homophobic. It's the 21st century."
The IOC said it wanted to be "absolutely clear about what she said and if that is what she 'meant' to say before we make further comment".
US runner Nick Symmonds became the first international athlete to stand against the laws, dedicating his world 800 metres silver medal to his gay and lesbian friends.