Team Trek-Segafredo suspended 19-year-old American cycling hopeful Quinn Simmons from racing “until further notice” after he posted pro-Donald Trump tweets which the team described as “divisive, incendiary and damaging”.
On Wednesday, Simmons responded to a tweet by cycling journalist Jose Been that read “if you follow me and support Trump, you can go”, by posting the word “bye” and a hand-waving emoji in a black skin tone.
Announcing the suspension, the team called the post “divisive, inflammatory and harmful to the team, professional cycling.”
“He will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice.”
Thursday, the team clarified the reason for the suspension in a second statement.
“Quinn Simmons was not been suspended for his political opinions. He was suspended for engaging in a conversation on Twitter in a way that we felt was conduct unbefitting a Trek athlete,” it said.
The statement included an explanation from the rider.
“For those who find the color of the emoji racist, I can promise you that it was not my intention that it should be interpreted in this way,” said Simmons.
“As an American rider, I have always, been proud to represent my country. Riding for an American team has been a lifelong dream. A big reason I chose this team was because of the American values behind it.
“To those who found the color of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way. I would like to apologize to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form.
“To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same.”
Simmons joined Trek-Segafredo this year after winning the 2019 junior road world championship in England.
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini