August 13 - The British Athletes Commission (BAC) has warned that it will be the athletes who suffer if a Sochi 2014 boycott goes ahead in the wake of the contentious Russian anti-gay bill, but insisted it will "stand up" for its members as tensions grow.
The body, which represents world-class performance funded Olympic and Paralympic athletes, welcomed the input of both Prime Minister David Cameron and British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Sebastian Coe, but warned that the issue comes at a critical time for its members as they make their final preparations for next year's Games.
Olympic rowing gold medallist Zac Purchase, chair of the BAC's Athlete Advisory Group, claimed "depriving an athlete of the opportunity to be as good as they can be on a world stage is just not acceptable".
"The BAC fully supports the Equality in Sport initiative and will stand up for our membership where there is any potential case of discrimination; this includes sexual orientation," the Beijing 2008 lightweight double sculls champion said.
"Sochi 2014 represents the final goal for the GB team after four years of sacrifice and commitment.
"Concerns about possible prosecution and even just knowing that the political environment is anti-gay could negatively affect an athlete's performance."
Russia's anti-gay law bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships" and slaps fines on those holding gay pride rallies.
Since being rubberstamped by President Vladimir Putin in June, the controversial law has sparked international outcry, with activists taking to the streets to condemn the move and senior Olympic officials airing their fears.
International Boxing Association (AIBA) President C K Wu has become the latest high-ranking sports figure to add his voice to the growing chorus of concern as he insisted that there must be no restrictions on athletes at Sochi 2014.
"We want to know during the Games what will happen in different situations," Wu said in London.
"'What are you [Russia] going to do?'
"So we are waiting for them to really respond.
"We have to make the Russians fully understand - even the whole world understand - in the Olympic charter it says very clearly sport is a human right.
"This is applied to all...our message is cross – very clear."
He added that he hopes an agreement, which has the athletes' best interests at heart, will be reached in the coming months.
"We are serious," Wu said.
"So I believe through this next three-four months it will be achieved and agreed what the best operation will be in the Games."
Wu, who is campaigning to replace current International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, said that if elected next month he would make it clear to host cities from the outset that the Olympic charter is gospel and that non-compliance would see Games hosting rights removed.
"We will make it very clear from the very beginning if they don't follow [the Olympic Charter] we have to remove the Games to other cities," he said.
"This should become a basic qualification if you want to apply to host the Games."
Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko last week said "athletes can come and compete" but they "have to respect the laws of the country".
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