Los Angeles - Suzy Favor Hamilton, a three-time Olympian middle distance runner from the United States, admitted on Thursday that she has led a secret life for the past year as a Las Vegas escort.
The news was made public in a report on The Smoking Gun website and Hamilton, 44, confirmed some of the details with the release of a statement in a series of Twitter messages.
"I realize I have made highly irrational choices and I take full responsibility for them. I am not a victim here and knew what I was doing," Favor Hamilton said in postings on a Twitter account linked to her website.
"I 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. It provided an escape from a life that I was struggling in. It was a double life.
"I do not expect people to understand, but the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.
"As crazy as I know it seems, I never thought I would be exposed, therefore never hurting anybody.
"I have been seeking the help of a psychologist for the past few weeks and will continue to do so after I have put things together.
"I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am to anyone I have hurt as a result of my actions and greatly appreciate the support from family and those closest to me. I fully intend to make amends and get back to being a good mother, wife, daughter, and friend."
Hamilton won seven US national titles and competed for the United States at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics. She lost a lead in the final 200 meters of the 1 500m at Sydney in 2000 and fell to the track.
According to the Smoking Gun report, Hamilton worked under the alias "Kelly Lundy" as a $600-an-hour call girl since last December and went on "dates" in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston as well as Las Vegas.
Hamilton, who has a career as a motivational speaker and in real estate, has been in a Nike commercial and well as doing promotional work for Disney running projects.
Her All-American girl mystique includes the Big Ten Conference college Female Athlete of the Year trophy bearing her name. The men's counterpart award bears the name of US track legend and 1936 Olympic hero Jesse Owens.
Hamilton lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, Mark, who was aware of her double life, according to the report.
"He tried to get me to stop," she told the website. "He wasn't supportive of this at all."
Hamilton brought up the secret sex life of golf star Tiger Woods, who was revealed to have cheated on his ex-wife with numerous women, in saying how invincible world-class athletes feel about actions outside of competition.
"He's the biggest athlete ever," she told The Smoking Gun. "He obviously thought he could never get caught."