Two international sportsmen, one of them gay, have advised their colleagues against coming out, saying that this would harm their careers.
Now-retired Scottish racing cyclist Graeme Obree, who came out as gay in January, told the Scottish Sun that “I don’t think being gay and an active sportsman is a good thing”.
Obree (45), who twice broke the world hour record, explained: “You’d always be worrying if other people were thinking, ‘Is he checking me out?’”
He also said that he knows “for a fact” that there are Scottish Premier League footballers who are gay. “But if I was in their position there is no way I would come out. It would be too awkward in the dressing room.”
Obree added: “You need to be retired first. Even now I wouldn’t do coaching because it’s still an awkward situation.”
Cyd Zeigler jr. wrote about Obree’s statements on Outsports.com: “What’s so sad about his misguided comments is that he battled with depression for years and tried to commit suicide. He himself waited until he retired to come out. So bizarre that he’d want to sentence other gay athletes to the same torture.”
Earlier this week it was revealed that German football Captain Philipp Lahm (27) also believes that gay footballers should stay in the closet.
Writing in his autobiography, The Subtle Difference, Lahm said that “I would not advise any gay professional footballer to come out. I would fear that he could end up like Justin Fashanu who after he outed himself was driven into such a corner that he ended up committing suicide.”
Britain’s Fashanu was the first professional footballer to come out as gay. He committed suicide eight years later in 1998 at the age of 37.
Lahm insisted that he personally has no problem with gay people or players and also addressed ongoing speculation that he himself is gay.
“I am not a homosexual. I am not married to my wife Claudia for appearances and I do not have a friend in Cologne with whom I really live,” he said.
Lahm claims that the rumours have been spread by “a man who wanders around Cologne telling everyone who listens that he’s living with me”.
He added: “The speculation doesn’t matter to me . . . I have nothing against homosexuals and I find that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. But it never ceases to amaze me that these isolated people who tell these stories can have a lot of influence on public opinion.”