Sebastien Gacond, a professional triathlete from Switzerland, is not gay.
Gacond, 28, made this pronouncement to Outsports after it would not remove a link to a photo of him competing in the Mooloolaba triathlon in Australia. The link to a photo on Triathlon.org appeared May 4 on Picture This, a daily feature.
"Surfing the Internet I've just found a picture of me and my name mentioned on your website," Gacond wrote. "I ask you to remove my name and this picture straight away from this website."
Outsports replied that it did not host the photo on its server and merely used a link, and asked whether Gacond's objection was because it's a gay website.
"I know that the picture is not hosted on your server. But my name and the link is on your website," he wrote. "Yes I would like to remove it because it's a gay website. I've got absolutely nothing against gay people and the gay community but I don't want my name and image to be link there as I'm not gay ... I've got a girlfriend! Thank you for your understanding."
Picture This provides a daily link to a sports photo that caught the editor's eye. Well-known athletes such as Brady Quinn, Alex Rodriguez, Shaquille O'Neal, David Beckham and Tom Brady have been featured, along with other professionals and amateurs. No implication is made as to the orientation of any athlete whose photo link appears. Gacond is the first athlete in the six years the feature has appeared to ask that a link be removed. The text on Outsports for the Gacond link said: "Gacond, a Swiss triathlete, finishes the swim portion of a recent event."
He also said he was upset that his name on Outsports appeared prominently on searches for "Sebastien Gacond" via Yahoo and Google. "When I put my name in a search engine ... what come out in 3rd & 4th is outsports.com!" he wrote.
Outsports, citing its journalistic rights, declined to delete his name.
Gacond has a website that features an extensive photo gallery and links to stories about him in various publications. "Your website has a dozen articles about you, with photos and your name in headlines. We have as much right as those news organizations to use your name," Outsports wrote to him. Gacond replied that with his Wesbite, "I'm trying to show a professional image of myself (of what I'm and what I do ... and NOT what I'm not...). As in the real life I'm trying to have a professional image of what I'm on the web."
Gacond said that if the link were not removed he would "move on to the next step," though it is unclear what that means. Cynthia Counts, an Atlanta-based attorney specializing in First Amendment cases, said Gacond would not be able to show his privacy was invaded "since the picture simply depicts Gacond as he was at a public event." In 2004, Counts defended Outsports after it was sued by a runner in the Los Angeles Marathon, who said his photo on a gay website would cause people to think he was gay. The suit was dismissed.
Gacond, 6-2 and 152 pounds, competes regularly on the triathlon circuit and his goal is to make the Swiss team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Among his sponsors are Volkswagen, Asics and the Swiss Olympic Assn.
Gacond joins baseball's Mike Piazza and the NFL's Jeff Garcia as pro athletes who have declared they are not gay.