U.S. Olympian Adam Rippon has ramped up his attacks on Vice President Mike Pence as the Winter Olympics continue in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Rippon, the first openly gay U.S. Olympics competitor, has placed himself at the center of continued controversy over his dislike of the vice president based on claims Pence supported anti-gay policies when he was the governor of Indiana.
Renewing his attack on Pence, Rippon posted a photo to social media of himself and fellow competitor Gus Kenworthy, with a caption taunting the vice president saying, “Eat your heart out, Pence:”
The photo is posted to Freeskier Gus Kenworthy’s Instagram page and adds, “I feel incredibly honored to be here in Korea competing for the US, and I’m so proud to be representing the LGBTQ community alongside this amazing guy! Eat your heart out, Pence.
Rippon has been attacking Pence since he got to South Korea and learned that Pence was set to lead the U.S. Olympics delegation.
Rippon expressed his distaste over Pence due to the VP’s supposed support of “conversion therapy” when he led Indiana. Conversion therapy maintains that homosexuals can choose to renounce their predilections and change their source of sexual attraction through therapy. Gay activists have criticized the treatment as a scam brought about from bigotry against their sexual preference.
“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon told USA Today. “I’m not buying it.”
The Office of the Vice President released a statement after Rippon spoke out:
The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes. This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact. Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang
For his part, Kenworthy also attacked Pence.
“To have somebody leading the delegation that’s directly attacked the LGBTQ community, and a Cabinet in general that just sort of stands against us and has tried to do things to set us back, it just seems like a bad fit,” he said according to The Hill.
Even as he continues ramping up his attacks on the vice president, Rippon insisted that he didn’t want Pence to be a “distraction” for U.S. Olympians.
“I don’t want to make this too much for my competitors and for my teammates,” Rippon said according to the Japan Times. “I’m just kind of focused on the competition. The opening ceremony is tomorrow. I don’t mind talking about it but I don’t want to distract my teammates.”
Pence, of course, has been gracious despite the attacks by the two skaters. In a public statement Thursday, Pence said, “I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ’em!”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.