Trek-Segafredo, an American cycling team, suspended cyclist Quinn Simmons on Thursday after he posted potentially inflammatory comments on Twitter in support of President Donald Trump.
The suspension came after the 19-year-old former Junior World Champion tweeted at a Dutch journalist when she criticized the president, the Associated Press reported.
“My dear American friends,” journalist Jose Been tweeted, “I hope this horrible presidency ends for you. And for us as (former?) allies too. If you follow me and support Trump, you can go. There is Zero excuse for you to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man.” (RELATED: ‘Wretched Orange Man’: Twitter Official Overseeing Misinformation Efforts Is Anti-Trump Partisan Who Donated To Planned Parenthood)
Statement from Trek-Segafredo and Quinn Simmons. pic.twitter.com/WvtK9htYWN
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) October 1, 2020
Simmons responded to the tweet with “Bye” and a waving hand emoji.
“Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport,” Trek-Segafredo said in a statement. “(He) will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice.”
The Trek team later issued a statement from Simmons.
“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,” Simmons said. “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.”
“Quinn Simmons was not suspended because of his political views. He was suspended for engaging in conversation on Twitter in a way that we felt was conduct unbefitting a Trek athlete,” Trek-Segafredo’s statement said.
Been later tweeted “to suspend him would never be my choice,” the AP reported.