Eight days after the U.S. Olympic Committee named him as chef de mission for its 2012 Olympic team, former gymnast Peter Vidmar resigned his post amid controversy over his support for a 2008 political measure.
Vidmar, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist, lobbied for and donated money in support of Prop. 8, a 2008 ballot measure that successfully overturned the legality of gay marriage in California.
The USOC's selection of Vidmar as head of delegation launched a slew of criticism online. On Thursday, Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir told "The Chicago Tribune" that Vidmar's selection was "disgraceful."
The USOC reaffirmed its faith in Vidmar, but the former gymnast announced he was stepping down.
"I have dedicated my life to the Olympic Movement and the ideals of excellence, friendship and respect," Vidmar said in a statement Friday. "I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic Movement in the United States. I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family. I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage."
Scott Blackmun, chief executive officer of the USOC, said he respected both Vidmar and his decision.
"Peter is respected the world-over for his dedication and commitment to the Olympic Movement and is rightly considered one of America's great Olympic champions," Blackmun said. "I believe Peter would have served our athletes well, but given the nature of this issue, I certainly respect his decision to resign. As we look toward London 2012 and the selection of Peter's replacement, we'll do so with the sole intent of showcasing America's best and brightest stars and the inspirational story that each member of our Olympic team has to share."
USA Gymnastics also issued a statement in support of Vidmar, who serves as chairman of the board for the organization.
"Earlier today, Peter Vidmar chose to resign as the chef de mission of the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2012 Olympic Games," USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny said. "This selfless gesture is indicative of the man we in gymnastics know very well – a man of principle and integrity who treats everyone equally and has the best interests of the athletes and the Olympic movement at heart. Peter is known for bringing people together in friendship, regardless of their creed, ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation or culture. He has shown his dedication and commitment to gymnastics, its athletes and the Olympics through his many years of service."