Brazil suspends 3 gymnasts for comments to black teammate

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SAO PAULO (AP) — The Brazilian gymnastics confederation has suspended three athletes for comments made to a black teammate that were caught on video.

The confederation said it decided to suspend the three members of the men's team for 30 days, or until a final ruling is reached in the case.

The confederation said the suspension of Arthur Nory Mariano, Fellipe Arakawa and Henrique Flores takes effect on Thursday. They are banned from entering any national or international competition, and lose their rights to any financial incentives they might have been receiving.

In the video, the gymnasts were seen telling 18-year-old teammate Angelo Assumpcao, who is black, that a smartphone's screen is white when it works and black when it doesn't, and that supermarket bags are white and trash bags are black.

The confederation said the case will be analyzed by a local gymnastics sports tribunal. Assumpcao and the three suspended gymnasts are expected to be questioned by the tribunal.

The video was made public after being obtained by the O Globo newspaper, prompting the confederation to open an investigation last week. The newspaper said the video originated from the Snapchat app account of one of the gymnasts.

After the incident created a stir among athletes and human rights advocates, the gymnasts released another video saying they wanted to publicly apologize to Assumpcao. They said they were joking and that viewers misunderstood them and blew the incident out of proportion.

"There are no hard feelings," Assumpcao said in the video, sitting alongside his teammates. "We are friends."

Despite the apology, local authorities immediately asked the confederation and the Brazilian Olympic Committee to take the matter seriously. Government officials said they would follow the case closely to see if there was space for a criminal complaint under Brazil's antidiscrimination laws.

Assumpcao is considered a promising star in Brazilian gymnastics and pulled off an upset victory in the vault in the World Challenge Cup in Sao Paulo this month.


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