Because of “divisive, inflammatory and detrimental” statements
A Twitter discussion led to a shitstorm against the junior cycling world champion and Trump supporter Quinn Simmons – and ended in his suspension from his racing team.
The aspiring young professional from the US state of Colorado is considered one of the greatest talents in cycling. The now 19-year-old can refer to a whole range of accolades – including winning the world championship in junior races at the 2019 UCI road cycling world championship in the British county of Yorkshire. These successes meant that he was the youngest rider to date to be signed by the high-class professional racing team Trek-Segafredo. People there are proud of their rough diamonds – at least as long as they aren’t politically insubordinate.
Cyclist outs himself as a Trump supporter
The latest scandal began when a Dutch cycling journalist tweeted that she did not need Trump supporters as followers: “If you follow me and support Trump, you can go. There is zero excuse to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man.” Simmons did not have to be told twice and replied with “Bye”- and a wave emoji with dark brown skin.
Suspension due to “divisive” statement
Shortly thereafter, his racing stable reacted and suspended the young professional because of “divisive, inflammatory and detrimental” statements on social media – the measure applies until further notice. In addition, they felt compelled to comment on Twitter: “Trek-Segafredo is an organization that values inclusivity and is committed to a more diverse and fairer sport for all athletes.”
Although they support the right to free opinion, they will “hold people accountable for their words and deeds”.
Racing team appeased: No political measure
A heated debate ensued on the short-message service. On Thursday, Trek-Segafredo and Quinn Simmons appeared together with a new statement. The team affirmed that it had not suspended his young star because of his political views – but “because he took part in conversations on Twitter in a way that we found unsuitable for our athletes.”
Simmons, in turn, reaffirmed to all those who had accused him of racism because of the emoji – neither he nor the journalist are dark-skinned – that he did not mean it that way. He wanted to “apologize to everyone who has found this to be an insult”. Namely, he speaks out against any kind of racism. However, it is still unclear whether this rowing back will enable him to return to his cycling career anytime soon.
Two standards in political statements
The incident also shows that even when making public statements in professional sport, double standards are apparently applied. There were no sanctions for Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton but instead his team’s backing. This despite the fact that he came out in support of destroying statues in the course of the “Black Lives Matter” protests. When several US professionals boycotted their games a few months later, there were no penalties – their games were simply rescheduled.
If a statement or a roped party goes against the zeitgeist, the public no longer understands the joke – and has been for years. It reached a sad climax in 2012 at the Olympic Games. There a Canadian equestrian was advised to return home immediately. Not because she did something wrong herself, but because her partner was active in the Conservative Party of Canada.