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Ian Thorpe Rumors: Australian Swimmer Denies That He Is Gay In Televised Interview [VIDEO]

By Melissa Siegel, Posted: 11/01/12 12:21PM EDT

Ian Thorpe addressed rumors of his sexuality in an interview with ABC in Australia earlier this week. Thorpe appeared on the network to promote his autobiography, "This Is Me."

In the interview, Leigh Sales asks Thorpe about the questions surrounding the swimmer's sexuality. In his book, Ian Thorpe claims that the speculation surrounding him has been hurtful, and Sales agrees that Thorpe has faced scrutiny that most other athletes have not.

"Yeah, look, the thing that I find hurtful about it is that people are questioning kind of my integrity and what I say," Thorpe said. "That's the only part that I find hurtful. Like is that, you know, this is something that I would be embarrassed about, that I would hide or whatever else.

"I think, you know, and I try and explain it because I don't know either, but I think it's because I don't fit into the typical stereotype of, you know, what Australian athletes have been in the past, you know, the performances in the pool, like, you know, we can relate to them as sport, you know, but, you know, I guess I behave differently."

Thorpe made it clear that his frustration over the rumors has nothing to do with his feelings on homosexuality in general.

"When I talk about it is I don't want to offend anyone that, you know, whether they're people that are friends that are gay or whatever else, I don't want to offend them by saying... getting angry about it, getting frustrated about it," he continued. "The only part that I'm frustrated with is that people think that I'm lying."

Questions of Thorpe's sexuality first emerged before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. His friendship with clothing designer Georgio Armani and passion for jewelry design have furthered the speculation.

 Ian Thorpe was also prominently featured on several gay websites, and many felt that he was just waiting until after the 2004 Olympic Games to reveal the truth. However, he told ABC in Australia back in 2002 that he was indeed straight and has continued to insist as much ever since.

Indeed, earlier this year he told Harry Wallop of the Telegraph in England that he is tired of all of the speculation.

There is no way I can answer this," Thorpe said about questions of his sexuality. "It really has just got to the stage when I say, 'whatever'. It's not a big deal for me. It doesn't impact on my life what people think. "

Ian Thorpe first burst onto the swimming scene at the 1998 world championships, winning the 400m freestyle in dramatic fashion and becoming the youngest male world titleholder ever. He then won three gold medals and helped set two world records at the 2000 Olympics. He won two more golds at the 2004 Olympics, including a victory in the "Race of the Century": the 200m freestyle against Michael Phelps and Pieter van den Hoogenband. He retired from the sport in 2006 but recently announced a comeback. He failed to make Australia's team for the 2012 London Olympics and has now set his sights on the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, according to The Courier-Mail.

To watch Ian Thorpe's entire ABC interview, click below.

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