Billy Bean Part of MLB’s All-Star Week
As Major League Baseball’s (MLB) first openly gay player and now its vice president of social responsibility and inclusion, Billy Bean’s work continues to make positive inroads in the MLB community. He was part of MLB’s All-Star Week in San Diego, playing in the All-Star Celebrity Game and also part of the coaching staff for the U.S. squad for the MLB All-Star Futures Game that affords future star players to show off their talent to move into the big leagues. His former team the Padres played host for the week and also participated in the LGBT Pride Parade in San Diego.
Independent Report Confirms Allegations of Russian State-Sponsored Doping at Sochi Games
The anticipated World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) investigation of Sochi doping allegations was finally released. The independent report by Richard H. McLaren confirms allegations made by a number of people, most notably by the former director of the Moscow and Sochi doping control laboratories, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov.
He laid out the elaborate doping scheme that operated during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi where, with the help of Russian state security agents, those in charge of the country’s drug testing program operated a state-sponsored doping operation. It enabled athletes taking performance enhancing drugs (PED) to come up with a clean urine sample by swapping out the dirty one with a clean sample taken after the drugs had passed through the system; they called it the “disappearing positive” sample.
The International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) ban on competing at the Rio Games by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and the 68 athletes of Russia’s track and field team has now been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It now is up to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide if they will now choose to implement a blanket ban on all Russian athletes competing in Rio as called for by WADA.
Openly Gay Boxer Orlando Cruz Dedicates Fight to Victims of Pulse Shooting
Orlando Cruz, openly gay Puerto Rican boxer dedicated his July 15 win at the World Boxing Organization’s North American lightweight title fight to the memory of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Before the fight began there was a 49-bell salute to honor each victim, and the fight was attended by Michael Gonzalex, a survivor of the Pulse massacre. Cruz, who knew four of the victims said, “It was a great opportunity to get the win and represent my people. I’m proud to give them an equal opportunity to compete.”
Serena Williams’ Milestone Win Goes Beyond Wimbledon
Congratulations go to tennis legend Serena Williams for capturing Wimbledon women’s final, tying Steffi Graf’s modern day record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles. She is now using her position to ask for respect for women athletes as athletes. A reporter asked her after the win how she felt as “one of the greatest female athletes of all time.” Her response was simple and direct: “I prefer the word ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time.’”
Yet another reporter intimated that because Serena had made such quick work of the match that the women’s tennis game wasn’t as valuable as the men’s. In a special report for USA TODAY Sports, Ben Rothenberg shared Serena’s comments that are worth sharing verbatim.
“’I would like to see people, the public, the press, other athletes in general, just realize and respect women for who they are and what we are and what we do,’ she said. ‘Like I say, I’ve been working at this since I was three years old. Actually maybe younger, because I have a picture where I’m in a stroller. I think Venus is actually pushing me, and we’re on the tennis court. Basically my whole life I’ve been doing this. I haven’t had a life. I don’t think I would deserve to be paid less because of my sex, or anyone else for that matter in any job.’”
ESPN’s The Magazine’s “Body Issue” Included Greg Louganis and Chris Mosier
Congratulations go to ESPN for including five-time Olympic medalist and openly gay diver Greg Louganis and triathlete and cyclist, trans man Chris Mosier in this year’s issue of their famous “Body Issue.” Mosier is the first trans man to compete on a national all-male team and the first transgender athlete to be showcased in ESPN’s highly anticipated annual “Body Issue.” It features athletes of all sizes and shapes from a variety of sports in nude photo shoots that tastefully emphasize their bodies in motion. Thanks also goes to both these barrier-breaking LGBT athletes for being willing to bare it all, literally, to show that athletes are just athletes … period.
U.S. Olympic Fencer Working to Change Perception of Muslim Women
Ibtihaj (pronounced Ib-tee-haj) Muhammad is the first Muslim American to qualify for the Olympics. And while the fencer is a practicing Muslim and wears a hijab, the traditional Muslim headscarf, she wants to use her Olympic exposure to help change the perception of Muslim women.
In an interview with Business Insider she said “I feel that Muslims aren’t always painted in the most positive light. I want to hopefully show Muslims a different narrative than what we’re used to hearing.” A black woman from New Jersey, Muhammad says she’s working to change the belief of many that Muslim women are “docile, oppressed, that we’re all Arab.”
She’s already been named as a member of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and according to Time, her story isn’t just the story of Ibtihaj Muhammad, it’s “… the story of America.”