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US Olympic Committee supports adding sexual orientation nondiscrimination to Olympic charter

Meeting in Park City, Utah, U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst said he would vote to amend the Olympic charter to list sexual orientation as a form of discrimination.

In the International Olympic Organization’s “Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” it states “any form of discrimination … on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” It does not specifically mention sexual orientation, but Probst and USOC CEO Scott Blackmun both believe it should.

Probst said such an amendment could send a message to Russia, which recently passed an anti-gay law, less than a year before it hosts the Winter Olympics.

Probst said that an American boycott of the Sochi Olympics is not an option.

“First and foremost, we’re a sports organization,” Blackmun said. “The only organization in the world whose job it is to make sure American athletes are able to compete in the Olympic Games. We’re not an advocacy organization or a human-rights organization. We’re part of the worldwide Olympic movement, though. What we can do is advocate for change within our movement.

“We want to lead by example and advocate internally to make sure we, as a family, are sending the message that we don’t tolerate discrimination.”

Skier Bode Miller railed on Russia’s law.

“I think it’s absolutely embarrassing that there are countries and people who are that intolerant and that ignorant,” he said. “But it’s not the first time. We’ve been dealing with human-rights issues probably since there were humans.”

Skater Ashley Wagner was also against Russia’s “anti-propoganda” law.

“I firmly believe that your preferences don’t make you any less of a being. It’s not what defines you,” said Wagner, who has gay friends and family members. “It’s inconvenient to talk about, but it’s something I feel so strongly about.”

IOC officials have said they don’t have the authority to intervene in Russia’s lawmaking and are convinced there will be no discrimination against athletes or spectators at the games.

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