German slalom skier Felix Neureuther criticized Russia for its human rights record and for passing anti-gay laws after he won an event in Italy. The skier even joked that he would "pretend that I'm gay" as a protest.
"I said that I was concerned about the human rights situation in Russia, that everything was not right and that the IOC should check how and where they award the Games," he told reporters, hinting at the controversial anti-gay laws recently voted in Russia.
"It is not right that the Games should go to the places with the most money. The priority should go to sport and to the emotion spectators feel when they attend the Olympic games," added Neureuther, the son of double Olympic champion Rosi Mittermaier.
"To have the Olympics in Sochi or Pyeongchang [South Korea] or the soccer World Cup in Qatar is not good for sport. They should definitely go in other directions in the future," added the German.
Despite his joke about pretending to be gay, Neureuther, 29, said he would not protest in Sochi and concentrate on his sport. That's appropriate and it's terrific that he used a pre-Olympics race to state his concerns with Russia's new laws. We need more athletes to speak out since the Russians have been sensitive to the outcry that has occurred since the summer and that is about all any athlete can do to raise awareness.