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The Italian Gymnastics Federation Defends Carlotta During Ferlito-Gate; USA Gymnastics Demands Explanation

After what Carlotta Ferlito's now infamous rant on Simone Biles and the beam final and some racially charged comments, David Ciarelli, a spokesperson for the Italian Gymnastics Federation, defended Carlotta after her unfortunate foot in mouth incident which has now become the biggest story coming from the Antwerp World Championships.

Ciarelli seems to have only made matters worse by inserting his foot even deeper in his mouth.  Ciarelli posted the following comments on the Facebook page of the Italian Gymnastics Federation (the comment does not as of today appear on the page).

“Carlotta was referring to a trend in gymnastics at this moment, which is going towards a technique that opens up new chances to athletes of color (well-known for power)” while penalizing the more artistic Eastern European style that allowed Russians and Romanians to dominate the sport for years.
“Why aren’t there blacks in swimming?” Ciaralli wrote. “Because the sport doesn’t suit their physical characteristics. Is gymnastics becoming the same thing, to the point of wanting to be colored?”
Later, Ciarelli said in a phone interview with the Chicago Tribune that he was sorry and his statement was his own personal opinion and not the opinion of the Federation and that he was trying to turn the statement to a discussion of technique, unsuccessfully.  He defended Carlotta saying  “I know Carlotta. She is not racist. It was just a stupid answer, and she was joking. We had no intention of offending the United States, its gymnasts or black gymnasts,” Ciaralli said.
Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics President made his own statement in response to the comments of Carlotta and Ciarelli:
“USA Gymnastics is disappointed by the recent comments made by Carlotta Ferlito and apparently by the Italian Gymnastics Federation. Gymnastics is a global and inclusive sport with talented athletes, and there is no place for racial insensitivity. We are contacting the Italian federation for clarification on its comments.”

Read the original story in the Chicago Tribune: Italian Gymnast, Federation Spokesman Apologize For Racial Remarks

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