Quinn Simmons issues apology, says tweet was not racist

The American rider has been suspended from racing after he tweeted a black hand emoji while professing his support for Donald Trump

Quinn Simmons has apologised for tweeting a black hand emoji while stating his support for Donald Trump, adding he did not intend it to be interpreted as racist.

The 19-year-old Trek-Segafredo rider was caught up in controversy earlier this week after tweeting “Bye” followed by a black hand emoji in response to Dutch commentator José Been, who had told her followers to unfollow her if they supported US President Donald Trump.

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“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,” Simmons said in a statement issued by the Trek-Segafredo team, which he only joined at the start of the year.

“To those who found the colour of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way. I would like to apologise to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form.”

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Simmons finished by appealing for people who disagreed with his politics to not hate him for it.

“To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same.”

In Trek-Segafredo’s initial statement on the situation, they said the junior World Champion at Yorkshire 2019 will not be racing for the team “until further notice”. Team manager Luca Guercilena has now said Simmons has a bright future in the sport and hopes he takes this experience as an “opportunity to grow”.

“We hold all Trek staff and management to a high ethical standard and our athletes are no exception,” Guercilena said. “We believe that Quinn has a bright future as a professional athlete if he can use this opportunity to grow as a person and make a positive contribution to a better future for cycling. We remain committed to helping Quinn as much as we can.”