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US athletes placed on probation for protesting during national anthem at Pan Am Games

The Olympic and Paralympic Committee says future misconduct will be met with stiffer penalties

Leonardo Fernandez/Getty Images

Two American athletes have been placed on 12-month probation for protesting during the playing of their own country's national anthem at the Pan American Games, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee says future misconduct will be met with harsher punishment.

What are the details?

Fencer Race Imboden and hammer-thrower Gwen Berry are the two athletes who were reprimanded, after Imboden took a knee and Berry raised a fist while the Star Spangle Banner during their respective medal ceremonies, NBC News reported.

According to USA Today, the athletes were notified via letters from USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland, who wrote that while she "applaud(ed)" each athlete's "decision to be an active citizen," she reminded them that they must "abide by the policies we agree to in order to ensure the Games succeed in their purpose for many years to come."

Hirshland went on to inform Imboden and Berry that they were considered to be in "a probationary period for the next 12 months. This means you could face more serious sanctions for any additional breach of our code of conduct that might otherwise be levied for an athlete in good standing."

The CEO also issued a warning to other athletes, adding, "It is important for me to point out that, going forward, issuing a reprimand to other athletes in a similar instance is insufficient."

Why were they protesting?

After Imboden's protest, he said on Twitter, "This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze. My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list."

The fencer went on to call on his fellow athletes to "use your platforms for empowerment and change."

Berry, for her part, has said she protested because she wanted to "stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who's making it worse."

One last thing…
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