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Giro d'Italia

Robbie McEwen apologizes for ‘unintentional’ use of homophobic phrase in commentary

‘I’m genuinely sorry for the language I used,’ says Australian of stage 10 incident.

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Retired sprinter and commentator Robbie McEwen apologized Thursday after using a homophobic phrase in commentary for Eurosport and GCN+ during stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia this week.

“I unintentionally used an offensive phrase during my commentary on Stage 10, and I regret both saying it and not immediately apologizing on air,” McEwen wrote on Twitter.

“I’m genuinely sorry for the language I used, and for letting the team down, but mostly I want to say sorry to anyone who I offended.”

In an on-air discussion about their lunch, McEwen’s co-commentator Rob Hatch described how he had bought some fudge, but had already eaten most of it.

In response to Hatch’s story, McEwen said: “You’ve gone in the fudge shop and you’ve consumed it straight away. The fudge packers were wasting their time.”

The phrase “fudge packer” is used as a derogatory term for a gay man.

The conversation continued jovially, and the remark was not commented on during the broadcast of stage 10. The stage replay was made available on Eurosport Player and GCN+ without an English commentary track.

GCN posted this message on Twitter on Thursday afternoon: “Cycling is a sport for all and everyone should feel welcome. We chose not to publish Stage 10 coverage until an offensive phrase was removed and we apologize to anyone offended during the broadcast. The full stage will soon be available in English without this section of commentary.”

Despite several viewers using social media to point out the offensive nature of the phrase used Tuesday, neither McEwen, GCN or Eurosport commented on the incident before Thursday.

No reference to the incident has been made on air. 

At the time of writing, the replay of stage 10 is still without English commentary on GCN+.