Greg Rutherford has threatened to withdraw from the shortlist unless Tyson Fury is removed ©Getty Images

Olympic and world long jump champion Greg Rutherford has criticised "out-dated and derogatory comments" made by fellow BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award nominee and new world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury regarding homosexuality.

Rutherford features on the 12-person shortlist for the annual award after securing the gold medal at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships to complete the grand slam of titles available to him, having won the Commonwealth Games and European Championships last year to add to the Olympic gold medal he won at London 2012.

He also claimed the Diamond Race long jump title during the season and was crowned as the men’s European Athlete of the Year.

He had reportedly threatened to withdraw from the shortlist following a string of comments made by Fury regarding homosexuality, abortion, paedophilia and devil worshipping in the build-up to his world heavyweight title fight against Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko last month.

“There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home: one of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one's paedophilia,” Fury told the Mail on Sunday.

“Who would have thought in the 50s and 60s that those first two would be legalised?

“When I say paedophiles can be made legal, that sounds like crazy talk doesn't it?

“But back in the 50s and early 60s, for them first two to be made legal would have been looked on as a crazy man again.”

A petition to have Fury removed from the shortlist has amassed nearly 125,000 signatures
A petition to have Fury removed from the shortlist has amassed nearly 125,000 signatures ©

Fury has also been accused of sexism following comments made about heptathlon world and Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.

When asked about the possibility of sharing a podium with the athlete at the awards ceremony the boxer stated “That’s the runner, isn’t it?

"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.

Following Fury’s unanimous points victory over defending world champion Klitschko, the 27-year-old was included on shortlist for the award, due to be decided by a public vote on December 20.

Fury's inclusion has courted controversy with nearly 125,000 people having signed a petition demanding the boxer, stripped of his International Boxing Federation title yesterday after agreeing to face Klitschko in a rematch rather than face his mandatory challenger, be removed from the shortlist.

Rutherford confirmed he met with the BBC to discuss whether he would be involved on their annual awards programme with Fury also appearing on the list.

Fury has also been accused of sexism in relation to comments made about fellow nominee Jessica Ennis-Hill
Fury has also been accused of sexism in relation to comments made about fellow nominee Jessica Ennis-Hill ©Getty Images

"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," he said in a statement.

"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."

Cyclists Chris Froome and Lizze Armitstead, footballer Lucy Bronze and Mo Farah are among the contenders for the award.

The list is completed by tennis star Andy Murray, who won the 2013 edition, swimmer Adam Peaty, rugby league player Kevin Sinfield, gymnast Max Whitlock and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, winner of last year’s award.

Related stories
December 2015:
 Alan Hubbard: Religion should not go hand in glove with the sporting arena
November 2015: Alan Hubbard: Tyson Fury as Sports Personality of the Year? One winces at the prospect...
October 2015: Rutherford and Schippers crowned European athletes of the year
September 2015: Rutherford rounds off annus mirabilis with IAAF Diamond Race win in Zurich
August 2015: Greg Rutherford completes medal set as Wang wows Bird’s Nest with historic bronze