(AP) Miller calls anti-gay law absolutely embarrassing
By EDDIE PELLS
AP National Writer
PARK CITY, Utah
Bode Miller felt no need to measure his words when asked about Russia’s anti-gay law.
`But it’s not the first time,” Miller said. “We’ve been dealing with human-rights issues probably since there were humans.”
At 35 and with five Olympic medals to his credit, Miller is trying for his fifth Winter Games. He has, over the years, built a reputation as an unconventional firebrand, unafraid to state his opinion on sports, skiing or society in general.
He said the Russian law puts athletes in an awkward position.
The USOC’S official stance, first communicated in August in a letter to athletes and others in the Olympic community, is that it disagrees with the law but that a boycott is out of the question.
The USOC, which brings more athletes to the games and more TV and advertising dollars to the table than any Olympic federation, has shown no desire so far to use that heft to lead a protest that might pressure the Russian hosts.
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun and chairman Larry Probst have a news conference set for Tuesday, but aren’t expected to break any new ground on the issue.
Like Miller, figure skater Ashley Wagner was also irritated by the law, which bans propagandizing “nontraditional” relationships.
Last week, a top Olympic official said the IOC didn’t have the authority to intervene in Russia’s lawmaking and is convinced there will be no discrimination against athletes or spectators at the games.
Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, gave his stamp of approval of Russian preparations for the games during a news conference at the conclusion of the commission’s final visit to Sochi before the Olympics, which begin on Feb. 7.
Killy said the commission considered the issue carefully and in the end was fully convinced that Russia will respect the Olympic charter, which prohibits discrimination of any kind. He said the IOC had received written assurances from Russian officials there would be no discrimination.
Typical of the responses from the 30 or so athletes at the summit was the one from defending figure skating gold medalist Evan Lysacek, who said he trusted the USOC’s judgment.
Bobsledders, including Lolo Jones and Olympic gold medalist Steve Holcomb, said athletes knew this topic was going to come up.
Holcomb said: “A lot of people were talking about boycotting it and my two cents on it is: Boycotting it, that’s exactly what the Russians want. Do you know how excited they would be knowing I’m not going to show up at the Olympics? Sweet! Gold medal, right there.
Political issues envelop almost every Olympics in one form or another _ a fact not lost on Miller.