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Greg Rutherford Denies Claims He Is Withdrawing From BBC Award Over Tyson Fury Controversy

Rutherford has confirmed he will take part, despite "derogatory" comments from a "fellow SPOTY nominee".

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British Olympic gold medalist Greg Rutherford has denied reports he threatened to withdraw from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award over controversial comments made by fellow nominee Tyson Fury.

Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty Images

Heavyweight boxer Fury compared homosexuality and abortion to paedophilia in an interview with the Mail on Sunday last month before winning the IBF world heavyweight title against Wladimir Klitschko on 28 November.

Fury told journalist Oliver Holt that three things were going to happen “before the devil comes home”.

“One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia,” he said. “Who would have thought in the 50s and 60s that those first two would be legalised?”

Following his victory against Klitschko, Fury was included on the shortlist for the BBC award alongside 11 other athletes, including long-jumper Rutherford.

It was reported by the Belfast Telegraph today that Rutherford had threatened to pull out of the competition in protest at Fury's inclusion on the list, but the athlete has denied the claims.

Belfast Telegraph

"In light of seeing reports circulating regarding my involvement with BBC Sports Personality Of The Year, I feel I should clarify the current situation," Rutherford said in a statement released by his manager.

The Olympian confirmed he had been in communication with the BBC over "derogatory comments" made by a "fellow SPOTY nominee", but said he would be taking part in the competition regardless.

"I have been in discussions with the BBC regarding my involvement with SPOTY after hearing what I believe to be very out-dated and derogatory comments from a fellow SPOTY nominee.

"Everybody has the right to freedom of speech, which is something that we as a society have struggled with and fought for generations to get to where we are now but by the nature of these comments, undermine the struggles that we have been through.

"As such, I wanted to speak with the BBC about sharing a stage with somebody that had views that are so strongly against my own. After doing so, I can confirm that reports that I am withdrawing from the ceremony are not true.

"The BBC have been hugely supportive in hearing my own views and I am hugely honoured and privileged to be included on the shortlist for such a prestigious event alongside so many remarkable sporting personalities, majority of whom I will proudly say to my son I had the chance to meet."

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If Fury does remain on the shortlist for the away, he could not only share a stage with Rutherford, but also with Jessica Ennis-Hill, about whom he recently made controversial comments.

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A video emerged last week in which Fury commented on the appearance of heptathlete Ennis-Hill.

"That's the runner, isn't it?" said Fury. "She's good, she's won quite a few medals, she slaps up good as well. When she's got a dress on she looks quite fit."

He also commented that a "woman's best place is in the kitchen".

It has been a busy 24 hours for Fury, after it was confirmed on Tuesday night that his IBF world title had been stripped from him just two weeks after he won it.

Chris Brunskill / Getty Images

The contract for Fury's fight with Klitshko included a clause that there would be a rematch if Fury won the fight, but this was in breach of the IBF's rules, which stipulated that the winner of the fight should next face mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov.

Glazkov had won the right to challenge for the title after winning 21 of his 22 professional bouts.

"It's true he's been stripped of his IBF belt," Lindsey Tucker, championships chair at the IBF, told BBC Sport.

"Our challenger was Vyacheslav Glazkov, but instead Fury's gone and signed a rematch clause with Wladimir Klitschko."

And in a separate incident, Greater Manchester police confirmed that they had received a hate crime complaint against Fury, and that he could be subject to an investigation.

"We take every allegation of hate crime extremely seriously and we will be attending the victim's address to take a statement," a police spokesperson said.

While Fury is currently still on the BBC SPOTY shortlist, his invitation to another awards ceremony, the British Sports Awards, has been withdrawn by the Sports Journalists' Association.

Chris Brunskill / Getty Images

A spokesman for the Sports Journalists' Association said the decision was motivated by "threats made by Tyson Fury against one of our members".

"It would be incompatible with the nature of our event, or the interests of our members, our other guests and our sponsors, for us to continue to extend a welcome to Tyson Fury to our awards next week."

Oliver Holt, the Mail on Sunday journalist who conducted the interview with Fury in which he compared homosexuality and abortion to paedophilia, was reportedly the subject of threats from the boxer.

MailOnline claim Fury filmed himself saying: "See "big Shane" there. He's 6ft 6in and 25 stone. He's going break his [Holt's] jaw completely with one straight right hand. I won't do it as I'll get in trouble but the big fella there will annihilate him.

"Oliver, take a good look at him because that's the face you're going to see before you hit the deck.

"[Turning camera to another member of his team] And that's the face you're going to see when he's jumping on your head."

Fury hasn't responded directly to allegations that he committed a hate crime, but he has remained active on social media today.

The end is near repent of your sins, Remember what the bible says,!

I'm going to win this year!!!!! Good always defeats evil,

Richard Beech is the sports editor for BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

Contact Richard Beech at Richard.Beech@buzzfeed.com.

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