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IOC wants assurances from Russia on anti-gay law overshadowing 2014 Olympics in Sochi

BY RAF CASERT, AP SPORTS WRITER

MOSCOW -- The International Olympic Committee is waiting for the Russian government to clarify the anti-gay law that is overshadowing preparations for the Sochi Games.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies. It has caused an international outcry and spawned calls for protests leading to the Feb. 7-23 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said Friday the Russian government provided written assurances about the law Thursday but some elements remain unclear.

"We are waiting for the clarifications before having the final judgment on these reassurances," Rogge said, a day before the start of the track and field world championships in Moscow.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko insisted Thursday that Olympic athletes would have to respect the laws of the country during the Sochi Games. On Friday, he said there was no way Russia would yield to political pressure.

Referring to Western criticism, Mutko was quoted as saying by Interfax: "I wouldn't call the pressure light. Russia must understand that the stronger we are, the more other people aren't going to like it. We have a unique country."

"We don't have to be afraid of threats to boycott the Olympic Games," Mutko said. "All sensible people understand that sports demand independence, that it is inadmissible that politics intervene."

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