Veteran US broadcaster Barbara Walters has said that asking Ricky Martin to confirm whether he was gay was “inappropriate”.

Walters, 80, interviewed the Latino star in 2000, at the height of rumours about his sexual orientation.

She now believes it could have damaged his career in the US.

Walters told the Toronto Star: “In 2000, I pushed Ricky Martin very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was.

“A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now I feel it was an inappropriate question.”

In the 2000 interview, she told Martin: “You know, you could stop these rumours. You could say, as many artists have, ‘Yes, I am gay’ or ‘No, I’m not’, or you could leave it, as you are, ambiguous. I don’t want to put you on the spot, but it’s in your power to do it.”

Martin, whose career is still strong in Latin America, is a single father to twin boys. He has never publicly commented on his sexual orientation.

Last year, reports said he had come out as bisexual to a Puerto Rican magazine but the publication in question was later reported to have fabricated quotes.