Gareth Thomas ‘would not have revealed HIV diagnosis without press intrusion’

Former Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas has said that he "absolutely would not" have revealed his HIV diagnosis if a newspaper had not threatened to publish it.

The former Welsh captain also said that "tabloids will create their own law", adding that he did not have the cash to fight them in court.

Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with the virus and has revealed that he was driven to suicidal thoughts as a result of his diagnosis.

His comments come the day after England cricketer Ben Stokes branded a front page story in The Sun newspaper about his family "utterly disgusting" and "the lowest form of journalism".

Gareth Thomas
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Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas ‘would not have revealed HIV diagnosis without press intrusion’
File photo dated 21/01/12 of former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas who is taking part in a 140-mile Ironman triathlon, a day after revealing he is HIV positive.
Prime Minister David Cameron (right) looks at a T-shirt given to him by former rugby player Gareth Thomas, during a reception in 10 Downing Street, central London, attended by senior figures in British sport, to discuss homophobia and transphobia in sport.
Gareth Thomas, Celtic Crusaders
Celtic Crusaders' Gareth Thomas is tackled by Salford City Reds' Chris Nero (front) and Matty Smith during the Engage Super League match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Gareth Thomas, Celtic Crusaders
Celtic Crusaders' Gareth Thomas tackles Huddersfield Giant's David Hodgson
Celtic Crusaders new signing Gareth Thomas poses for photographers following the press conference at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham.
Cardiff's Gareth Thomas (centre) is tackled during the Heineken Cup match at Twickenham Stoop, London.
Cardiff's Gareth Thomas (centre) is tackled during the Heineken Cup match at Twickenham Stoop, London.
Injured Gareth Thomas of the Cardiff Blues sits on the bench at half time during the tour match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff.
Cardiff Blues' Gareth Thomas hands off the tackle of Gloucester's Nicky Robinson during the LV Cup match at Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester.
Gareth Thomas, Cardiff Blues
Wales captain Gareth Thomas collects his baggage as he arrives back at the Vale of Glamorgan Hotel, Cardiff.
Wales' Gareth Thomas after his team concede the third try

When asked if he would have spoken about his HIV without press involvement, former British and Irish Lions captain Thomas told BBC Radio Wales: "I would love to sit here and say yes, but I'd be a hypocrite if I did.

"Absolutely not. It's got nothing to do with anyone else."

He added: "The tabloids will create their own law.

"You'll send them a letter and all they'll do is ignore it.

"I haven't got the money to be able to fight a giant tabloid in court.

"When they do it they'll somehow find justification for doing it."

Gareth Thomas
Thomas won 103 caps for Wales (Martin Rickett/PA)

Thomas, 45, revealed he had the virus on Saturday and vowed to "break the stigma" after blackmailers put him "through hell" threatening to expose his secret.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast on Wednesday, an emotional Thomas also criticised a journalist for telling his parents about his HIV diagnosis before he had told them.

He added: "They love me, they love me whatever.

"But you know I can never have that moment back to sit down with them and be able to explain to them why their son is going to be OK and is going to be able to live through this and live a normal, healthy life.

"That person came and took that moment away from me."

Speaking to presenter Nicky Campbell, Thomas, 45, said: "Can you imagine someone coming to your door and saying something so personal and so intrusive to you about the thing and the person that you would love and protect through anything?

"I can't, so I can't really tell you.

"But what I can tell you is that I've got the best parents on the planet because to this day they stand by me and they believe in me and they believe in what I'm doing now."

Thomas was speaking ahead of a documentary Gareth Thomas: HIV And Me on BBC One on Wednesday evening.

The former Cardiff Blues player won 103 caps and scored 41 tries for Wales between 1995 and 2007, and he is 13th on the all-time international test try-scoring list.

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