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American fencers punished for kneeling on podium at Pan Am Games, warned other athletes



Two American athletes received a year of probation by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) for staging protests while on the podium at the Pan American Games earlier this month, letters sent on Tuesday were revealed.

Hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised his fist and fencer Race Imboden took a knee at the medal stand last week in Lima, Peru. All athletes at the Pan American Games and Olympics agree on rules that prohibit political protest.

The Committee also warned other athletes that future protests could have more serious consequences.

"It is also important for me to point out that it is not enough in the future to make a complaint to other athletes in similar cases," USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote in a letter obtained by the Associated Press. [1

9659005] On this Friday, August 9, 2019, photo, released by Lima 2019 News Services, Race Imboden in the United States takes a knee when teammates Mick Itkin and Gerek Meinhardt stand on the podium after winning the gold medal in the team's foil, on Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. (Jose Sotomayor / Lima 2019 News Services via AP) "/>

On this Friday, August 9, 2019, photo, released by Lima 2019 News Services, Race Imboden in the United States takes a knee, when teammates Mick Itkin and Gerek Meinhardt stands on the podium after winning the gold medal in the team's foil, at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru (Jose Sotomayor / Lima 2019 News services via AP)

USA FENCES TAKE KNEE AT PAN AM GAMES IN PROTEST

"We realize that we need to define more clearly for Team USA athletes what a violation of these rules will mean in the future," Hirshland wrote. "In collaboration with (athletes and national board of directors), we are committed to defining more clearly what the consequences will be for members of Team USA who protest at future games."

Following his protest, Imdo tweeted "racism, gun control, immigrant abuse and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list" of issues that need to be addressed.

Berry said she protested against social injustice in the United States. It was "too important not to say anything," she said.

Both athletes are eligible for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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