'I was not suggesting they are cheats': Navratilova sorry for 'insane' transgender athletes remarks

'I was not suggesting they are cheats': Navratilova sorry for 'insane' transgender athletes remarks
Tennis great Martina Navratilova has apologized for her labeling transgender female athletes "cheats" for competing against biological female rivals and instead insisted she is a "champion of equal rights".

The 18-time Grand Slam champion was the subject of huge backlash from the LGBT community when she suggested the idea was "insane" and expressed fears for a level playing field in women's sport.

Her comments caused uproar and the 62-year-old vowed to “educate herself on the issue.”

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Now Navratilova has insisted her words were referring to one "notional case" and said they were not an attempt to "exclude trans people from living a full, healthy life".

She said: "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."

"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."

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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."

In December, Czech-born Navratilova, who resides in the US, again caused fury among LGBT groups when she tweeted the same concerns and suggested "having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard" of providing a level playing field in female sport.  

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