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Italian gymnastics fed condemns racism after spat

October 10, 2013

ROME (AP) — The Italian gymnastics federation condemned racism on Thursday after offensive comments made by one of its athletes.

Vanessa Ferrari and teammate Carlotta Ferlito finished fourth and fifth on the balance beam on Sunday at the world championships in Belgium, just behind bronze medalist Simone Biles, who is African-American. Ferlito said, with a laugh, that she told Ferrari: “Next time we’ll have our skin black also so we can win, too.”

Federation president Riccardo Agabio said in a statement the incident will not affect the friendly relationship with the U.S. federation. Ferlito apologized via Twitter on Tuesday, but comments posted on the Italian federation’s website by its spokesman also were seen as racially charged.

USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny said he’d been in contact with Agabio and Biles’ family, and “we consider the matter is behind us.”

Biles won the all-around title, the first black gymnast to become world champion. At last year’s London Games, Gabby Douglas became the first black woman to win the Olympic all-around.

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