Jacques Rogge

IOC wants clarification after Russia gives written confirmation anti-gay rights law won’t be enforced at Sochi Olympics

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International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said the IOC is looking at written confirmation from Russia that anti-gay rights activism legislation will not apply to athletes and visitors at the Sochi Olympics, but it needs more clarification.

The Russian law, enacted in June, bans the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors, and carries with it fines and possible prison sentences.

“There are still uncertainties and we have asked for more clarification as of today,” Rogge said at a news conference Friday in Moscow, according to R-Sport. “When we understand the law, we are prepared to abide the Olympic charter, which says sport is a human right and it should be available to all.”

Rogge said the confusion is in the translation of the law from Russian to English.

“The Olympic charter is clear,” Rogge said, according to The Associated Press. “A sport is a human right and it should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation.”

The AP reported Thursday that the U.S. Olympic Committee engaged in discussions with the IOC and the U.S. State Department to ensure the safety and security of U.S. athletes at the Olympics.

“We do not know how and to what extent (the law) will be enforced,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun wrote in a letter addressed to U.S. Olympic organizations date July 25, according to the AP.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he had no tolerance for gays and lesbians to be treated differently.

Last week, the IOC stood by its assurances from Russian officials that the law would not be enforced during the Olympics, despite Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying those “propagandizing” gay relationships would be “held accountable.” The IOC said its Russian source outranked Mutko.

Mutko said Thursday the Western criticism over the law is an attempt to “undermine Russia’s athletic performance” at the Sochi Games, according to R-Sport.

“I would call this a bit of pressure ahead of the Olympics,” Mutko said. “Russia should understand that the stronger we are, the more they don’t like it.”

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Ryan Lochte, with new coach, races in first meet since Olympics

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Ryan Lochte is back in the competition pool.

The 12-time Olympic medalist, suspended from USA Swimming and international meets through June, won a 200-yard individual medley at the U.S. Masters nationals in Riverside, Calif., on Friday. He also finished second in a 100-yard breaststroke.

Full results are here.

Lochte has moved to the Los Angeles area and is now coached by the University of Southern California’s Dave Salo until his fiancée’s baby is born (likely June). After that, they will re-evaluate his plan, Salo said.

Lochte was formerly coached by Gregg Troy from 2002-13 at the University of Florida, where he attended college and matured to become an Olympian in 2004. Lochte won 11 Olympic medals under Troy and became the world’s best swimmer going into the 2012 Olympics.

In 2013, Lochte moved from Gainesville to Charlotte and trained under David Marsh through the Rio Games. Lochte said last summer that he planned to move to California.

Lochte has also said he plans to try for a fifth Olympics in 2020, but his immediate future is about to get very busy — becoming a father, becoming a husband and the end of his ban.

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Jesse Owens’ Olympic gold medals up for auction

Jesse Owens
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Two of Jesse Owens‘ four 1936 Berlin Olympic gold medals will be auctioned in August, according to Heritage Auctions.

Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Games, triumphing in the face of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany by taking the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.

Owens gifted one gold medal to entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, according to “Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson.”

That medal was auctioned for in 2013 for $1,466,574, the highest price ever for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.

Owens used his three other Olympic golds as payment for a Pittsburgh hotel stay in the mid-1950s, according to “Intelligent Collector,” a magazine affiliated with Heritage Auctions, which is housing the August auction with Owens’ medals.

“Jesse didn’t have the financial means to pay for his stay at Mr. Harry Bailey’s hotel,” said Albert DeVito, son of a local handyman who ended up with the two gold medals being auctioned, according to the magazine. “So he gave his medals to Harry as his payment for expenses incurred.”

DeVito’s father was later gifted the three gold medals by the hotel owner Bailey for previously lending him money. DeVito’s father kept two and gave back to Bailey one gold medal whose whereabouts are unknown, according to the magazine.

DeVito thought to sell the remaining two gold medals after seeing the 2013 auction.

“It wasn’t until that first gold medal sold that we even thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. These things are worth something!'” DeVito said, according to the magazine.

It’s unknown which of the gold medals corresponds to which Olympic event, as they are not specified on the medals.

Before Owens’ death in 1980, the sprinter reportedly said he had lost the four gold medals. The German government replaced them, and they now rest at Ohio State, Owens’ alma mater.

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