Navratilova apologises for transgender remarks

Martina Navratilova says she was not suggesting that transgender athletes in general are cheats after controversial remarks.

Martina Navratilova, the 18-time grand slam singles champion, was criticised for her comments on participation of transgenders in sports.   -  Getty Images

Martina Navratilova has apologised for her controversial remarks about the participation of transgender athletes in women's sport.

Tennis legend Navratilova caused a stir by saying that allowing athletes that have transitioned from male to female to compete with women is "insane" and akin to "cheating". The 62-year-old was dropped as an ambassador for LGBTQ athletic advocacy group Athlete Ally as a result of her comments.

Navratilova on Sunday stated she was sorry to those who took issue with her remarks, stating that she was attempting to open up a debate on equality and fairness in relation to transgender participation in women's sport.

The 18-time grand slam singles champion wrote in a lengthy post on her website: "I know that my use of the word 'cheat' caused particular offence among the transgender community. I'm sorry for that because I certainly was not suggesting that transgender athletes in general are cheats.

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"I attached the label to a notional case in which someone cynically changes gender, perhaps temporarily, to gain a competitive advantage. We should not be blind to the possibility and some of these rules are making that possible and legal. The context may be different, but the case of Lance Armstrong, and the harm he did to his sport, is surely instructive."

She added: "Needless to say, I have always and will always be a champion of democracy, equal rights, human rights and full protection under the law for everyone.

"When I talk about sports and rules that must be fair, I am not trying to exclude trans people from living a full, healthy life.

"And I am certainly not advocating violence against trans people, as has been suggested. All I am trying to do is to make sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a playing field as possible within their sport."