Robbie McEwen apologizes for using ‘offensive phrase’ during Giro d’Italia broadcast | Tour of Italy
Robbie McEwen, the former cyclist and now commentator, has apologized for using a homophobic slur during a broadcast of stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia.
The three-time Tour de France points classification winner, who retired from professional cycling in 2012, said he “unintentionally” used the phrase when commenting on Eurosport and GCN+ earlier this week.
“I unintentionally used an offensive phrase during my comment on step 10, and I regret both saying it and not immediately apologizing on air,” McEwen tweeted.
“I’m so sorry for the language I used and for letting the team down, but most of all I want to say sorry to everyone I’ve offended.”
McEwen, who in his prime was ranked as one of the fastest sprinters in the sport, was discussing his lunch with co-commentator Rob Hatch during Wednesday’s stage broadcast when Hatch recounted how he bought some fudge upon returning from his break, only to have already eaten it.
McEwen replied, “You went to the fudge store and consumed it right away. The fudge packers were wasting their time.
“Fudge packer” is a pejorative term for a gay man.
McEwen apologized 48 hours later after multiple social media posts highlighted the use of the insult.
Global Bike Network, which provides major Italian tour coverage for Eurosport, also apologized on Thursday and said the comment had been removed from its flagship show.
“Cycling is a sport for everyone and everyone should feel welcome. We have chosen not to post Stage 10 coverage until an offensive phrase has been removed and apologize to anyone offended during the broadcast,” GCN said in a tweet.
“The full scene will soon be available in English without this comment section.”
McEwen took part in 12 Tours de France, winning the points classification three times between 2002 and 2006 and 12 stages. He also won 12 individual stage victories in the Giro d’Italia and is considered one of Australia’s greatest cyclists.
Since retiring, he has been an integral part of cycling coverage on television. Earlier this year he was released from his role with Australian broadcaster SBS, with the network saying he would take a “different approach” to their comments.
“Robbie has been a valued member of our cycling commentary lineup for a number of events over the past six years,” a spokesperson said at the time. “But we are exploring a different approach in 2022. As his contract comes to an end, we thank Robbie for everything he has brought to the role during his time with us.”
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