A newspaper report has implied that Australian Olympic swimming legend Ian Thorpe has been in a relationship with another man; a claim that Thorpe has denied.
Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph claimed that it had “unmasked” Thorpe’s “mystery male friend and housemate”.
The article said that the man in question is Brazilian swimmer Daniel Mendes and that the two men have shared a house together for the past three years.
They were recently photographed in Brazil visiting Mendes’ family.
The Telegraph added that this was the second time the two had travelled to Brazil together. Mendes has apparently also accompanied Thorpe to a number of events over the last year and a half.
Today, Thorpe (26) responded to the claims in a statement:
“Over the last few days there have been a series of press articles published speculating about my friendship with Daniel Mendes,” he said.
“I am still friends with many of the people I competed and trained with during my swimming career. Daniel is one such good friend whom I have known for many years.
“I have only commented on this issue at this time because I draw a line when innuendo implicates people like my family and my friends.
“I find this kind of inaccurate speculation tiresome and I am annoyed by the hurt it has caused those closest to me.”
He added that, “In the past, on several separate occasions, I have answered questions about my sexuality openly and honestly with the media”.
The statement referred to an interview with Good Weekend magazine in 2007 in which Thorpe said:
“I don’t have a problem being a gay icon, it’s not a big deal to me… I’m not gay. I’m lucky that within myself I don’t care enough to get worried or upset over it.”
Thorpe, nicknamed the Thorpedo, won five Olympic gold medals for swimming before announcing his retirement from the sport in 2006.