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Adam Rippon Felt “Wildly Uncomfortable” Over Lance Armstrong’s Trans Athlete Views

Rippon, the winner of Stars on Mars, said “everything changed” when Armstrong “brought up his opinions on trans athletes and sports.”
Adam Rippon Lance Armstrong

Fresh off being named the “brightest star” on Fox’s reality-competition series Stars on Mars, Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is getting candid about how fellow “celebronaut” Lance Armstrong’s controversial views surrounding trans athletes made him “wildly uncomfortable.”

Armstrong would eventually quit the show, on which celebrities live in a simulation of the red planet and complete intergalactic challenges while voting one another off to Earth. But before his exit, Armstrong made waves with his fellow cast members while speaking to contestant Ronda Rousey about The Forward, his podcast series with 100-plus episodes, several focusing on conversations about trans athletes. Armstrong believes these athletes should not compete against their cis counterparts. “Listen, this is real simple: You want to transition, let’s do it. You have your own category. We’re gonna have a whole new division. We’ll celebrate you just like we celebrate everybody else. Let’s go,” Armstrong said to Rousey. “What’s unfair about that?”

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly after his win, Rippon said, “That’s when everything changed, when Lance brought up his opinions on trans athletes and sports. In the show, it’s a few minutes, but in reality, that was a long-winded conversation and it really shifted the focus. It changed my experience totally. It was not the same after that.”

Multiple contestants took issue with Armstrong’s stance in the July 10 episode, including Modern Family’s Ariel Winter, singer and show runner-up Tinashe, and Rippon, who called Armstrong’s words “so disheartening.” After the episode, the Olympian told the Daily Beast, “I don’t need to hear what the greatest cheater in American history has to say about what he thinks is an unfair advantage.”

Rippon now says he felt the need to confront Armstrong as a queer athlete. “I wanted to be a representation of the LGBTQ+ community and that was a moment where I wanted to say something, but I don’t know everything about being a trans person,” he explained. “I do know that a lot of the things that were said that were not on the show were very transphobic, and I’m glad that trans people didn’t need to watch what was said. It was not nice and it was not good in any sort of way.”

He went on to say that “there’s a conversation to be had that is totally legitimate” regarding trans athletes, “but if you want the research, if you want the studies, [trans athletes] have to be allowed in these spaces.”

Rippon then doubled down on the hypocrisy of Armstrong, who was stripped of a bronze medal and his Tour de France titles, and issued a lifetime ban from competing professionally in cycling, following 2012 charges that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. “The person talking about this is the most recognized cheater in all of sports. So it’s just not the right time, it’s not the right person,” Rippon continued. “Just focus on what [host] William Shatner has to say and just get your job done.”