Three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton says she coped with depression and a troubled marriage by turning to a life of prostitution.
In a series of posts to her Twitter account, Favor Hamilton acknowledged working as an escort following a report today on The Smoking Gun website about her double life.
"I do not expect people to understand," Favor Hamilton tweeted. "But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression."
The Smoking Gun said the 44-year-old athlete has been working for the last year for a Las Vegas escort service that booked her for dates there, as well as in Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. The website said she charged US$600 an hour for her services.
One of the country's best-ever middle-distance runners, Favor Hamilton competed for the US at the Olympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000 but did not win a medal. She won seven US national titles. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where, The Smoking Gun reported, she and her husband, Mark, live in a US$600,000 home and appear to be in no financial distress based on the website's review of court and municipal records.
Favor Hamilton told the website that only her husband was aware of her escort work, but that, "He tried, he tried to get me to stop. He wasn't supportive of this at all."
The website reported that Favor Hamilton worked under the alias "Kelly Lundy" but said she told some of her clients about her true identity and suspected one of them leaked her identity.
Soon after the story appeared online, Favor Hamilton released a series of tweets saying in part that she was "drawn to escorting in large part because it provided many coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life."
A nine-time NCAA champion for Wisconsin, Favor Hamilton is the namesake of the Big Ten's Suzy Favor Athlete of the Year Award, given to the conference's top female athlete.
Neither Favor Hamilton nor officials from the Big Ten immediately responded to requests from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Prostitution is legal in most rural counties in Nevada, but is illegal in Las Vegas and Reno. A Las Vegas police spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a message about whether the department was investigating. Telephone numbers for the escort service Hamilton said she worked for were not in service and attempts to reach a company representative by email were not immediately successful.
Favor Hamilton is a three-time outdoor 1500m national champion and a three-time indoor national champion - her last title coming in 1999.
"As crazy as I know it seems, I never thought I would be exposed, therefore never hurting anybody," she said in one Twitter post.
In another, she says she is seeking psychological care for her problem.
She closes her series of tweets by saying, "I fully intend to make amends and get back to being a good mother, wife, daughter, and friend."
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