Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
American cyclist Quinn Simmons has been suspended by the Trek-Segafredo team after a social media post in support of Donald Trump on Wednesday that the team deemed to be “divisive, incendiary and detrimental to the team.”
The Associated Press explained the Twitter interaction that led to Simmons’ suspension:
“The 19-year-old rider reacted Wednesday when Dutch journalist Jose Been posted on Twitter that she hoped for her American friends that ‘this horrible presidency ends for you,’ adding ‘if you follow me and support Trump, you can go.’
“Simmons replied by writing ‘Bye’ with an emoji of a dark-skinned hand waving.
“When a separate account replied ‘Apparently a Trumper,’ Simmons countered, ‘That’s right’ with a United States flag symbol.”
In its full statement, Trek-Segafredo said Williams was suspended indefinitely:
Simmons said that he did not intend for the use of the black hand emoji to be a racist gesture.
“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,” he 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.”
Trek-Segafredo added that the young cyclist “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.”
The team still remains committed to Simmons’ future as a cyclist, though. Trek-Segafredo manager Luca Guercilena said he hopes Simmons “can use this opportunity to grow as a person and make a positive contribution for a better future for cycling.”