Skip to main content

Bobsleders Jesse Lumsden, left, and Justin Kripps appear at a news conference in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014.Neil Davidson/The Canadian Press

Canadian Olympic athlete Justin Kripps has a brand-new website. Trouble is, he hasn't been able to see it yet because it's blocked in Russia.

Mr. Kripps, a 27-year-old bobsledder from Summerland, B.C., tweeted a photo of a Russian message that popped up when he tried to access his website.

"Looks like my website is censored in Russia," he wrote on Twitter on Friday. "Haha classic #SochiProblems I wonder if there's a camera in my room."

The Vancouver-based web developer behind Mr. Kripps's personal site is investigating why it has been blacklisted, but said suspicion has been raised that the move may be linked to a photo Mr. Kripps tweeted last month of his burly four-man bobsled team in their underwear at a weigh-in. The photo went viral, including in the gay community.

"That's one of the things that we have discussed," said Andrew Mellenger, owner of Mellenger Interactive, which relaunched Mr. Kripps's website earlier this week.

Mr. Kripps's marketing and sponsorship assistant, Justine Yu, said the photo and the buzz it created in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community "is definitely a possibility in our minds."

Russia has come under intense criticism for its treatment of gays, particularly for its law criminalizing "propaganda promoting non-traditional sexual relations" to minors.

However, the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab said Mr. Kripps's website was blacklisted because it is hosted at the same IP address as other blocked websites, an example of what it calls "collateral filtering."

Earlier, Mr. Mellenger said the reason for blocking Mr. Kripps's website could also be more prosaic. The top featured a clock counting down to "Sochi 2014," which may be an unapproved use of Olympic trademarks. Mr. Mellenger changed the wording to "Countdown to 2 man bobsled" on Friday in hopes it might fix the problem.

Canadian Press journalists in Sochi also reported that they were faced with the same message forbidding access to Mr. Kripps's website. CP said the message says the site has been blocked because of a breach of Russian legislation and could be because the website contains inappropriate material; or material that would be illegal if broadcast in Russia; or that it contains material that could be in breach of the rights of rights-holders or a third party.

Meanwhile, Google appeared to wade in to the issue of gay rights in Russia by featuring a rainbow-themed version of its logo on its website on Friday. The search page features an athlete from six different winter sports in panels corresponding to the colours of the rainbow flag long used by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.