Trek-Segafredo suspended Quinn Simmons from the team after the 19-year-old cyclist reportedly fired off at least one "divisive, incendiary, and detrimental" tweet as he spoke of his support of President Donald Trump.
The tweet contained a dark-skinned waving hand emoji, which prompted many social media users to cry "racism."
Simmons won the junior World Championship road race in Yorkshire in 2019, according to Cycling Weekly.
What are the details?
The tweet in question emerged after Dutch cycling journalist and commentator Jose Been said she hoped "this horrible presidency ends" for her American friends.
"My dear American friends, I hope this horrible presidency ends for you," Been's tweet began. "And for us as (former?) allies too."
Been, in the since-deleted tweet, added, "If you follow me and support Trump, you can go. There is zero excuse to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man."
Simmons, who apparently followed Been, wrote "Bye" alongside a dark-skinned waving hand emoji.
I like talented young bike racers as much as anyone, but I refused to cheer for anyone who supports a racist, hatef… https://t.co/j45jzlyuHp— Peter Flax (@Peter Flax)1601480192.0
Another later user added that Simmons was "[a]pparently a Trumper," which prompted Simmons to fire back, "That's right" next to an American flag emoji.
@compassionsix @TourDeJose That’s right 🇺🇸— Quinn Simmons (@Quinn Simmons)1601477999.0
Following Simmons' remarks, some social media users said that Simmons' use of a dark-skinned hand emoji was a form of racism and insisted they would no longer purchase Trek Bikes, according to Cycling News.
According to Cycling Weekly, "The use of a black emoji by a white person online has been equated with blackface, showing a lack of racial awareness and temporarily adopting a racial identity."
In a statement, Trek-Segafredo wrote, "Trek-Segafredo is an organization that values inclusivity and supports a more diverse and equitable sport for all athletes. While we support the right to free speech, we will hold people accountable for their words and actions."
"Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport," the statement continued.
"In response, he will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice," the statement concluded. "The team and its partners will work together to determine how we will move forward and keep fans and the public informed as to the decisions made in the matter."
Trek-Segafredo response to public comments made by Quinn Simmons https://t.co/ygqYjy8FWz— Trek-Segafredo (@Trek-Segafredo)1601503186.0
On Thursday, Trek-Segafredo shared another update — this time with a statement from Simmons and team management.
Trek-Segafredo's team also insisted that Simmons was not suspended for his "political views," but for "engaging in conversation on Twitter in a way that we felt was conduct unbefitting a Trek athlete."
Simmons' statement read, "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."
"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. 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," Simmons' statement concluded.
Team manager Luca Guercilena added, "We all hold Trek staff and management to a high ethical standard and our athletes are no exception. 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 for a better future for cycling. We remain committed to helping Quinn as much as we can."
Statement from Trek-Segafredo and Quinn Simmons. https://t.co/WvtK9htYWN— Trek-Segafredo (@Trek-Segafredo)1601575163.0