ONE OF Scotland’s greatest Olympians has described as “rubbish” suggestions that Great Britain’s athletes should boycott the 2014 Winter Games in protest at anti-gay legislation in Russia.
Campaigners have called for the UK to snub the Games – to be held in Sochi next February – after the host nation prohibited the spread of information about homosexuality.
But Wells, who defied a boycott of the 1980 Olympics – also in Russia – to win a gold medal in the 100 metres, believes that it is unfair to use the Games as a vehicle for political protest.
Asked about the controversy in an interview with Scotland on Sunday, Wells said: “It’s rubbish. Keep it away from sport.
“Sport is sport. Let them get on with it. Do something else to show your disgust.
“Why should people take it out on sport?”
The US led a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The 1986 Commonwealth Games, held in Edinburgh, were also boycotted, this time by nations angry about the UK’s sporting links with apartheid-era South Africa.
Wells claims that US athletes did not agree with the 1980 protest. “The Americans wanted to go,” he said. “The people I spoke to were telling me they wanted to go. It’s disappointing to use major championships like that.
“It happened in Edinburgh in 1986 with the Commonwealth Games and it just ruined the Games.
“The Russians wouldn’t want that to happen. I don’t think anybody would want it to happen, especially the competitors, because these are the people who are suffering. The Americans suffered because they didn’t go to Moscow. That’s the sad thing about it I think it’s nonsense personally.
“The Russians are very proud people and I think it would be disastrous for anything to happen to the Winter Olympics. I met the guy in charge, the equivalent of [Sebastian] Coe, when I was in Moscow two years ago so I would feel sorry for him and sorry for the Russians. The Russians are not any different from us.”