Olympic hammer thrower blasts USOPC CEO for ‘equality’ hypocrisy, citing previous protest

U.S. Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry is demanding an apology from the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, criticizing the organization for hypocrisy after it lauded support to athletes protesting in wake of the death of George Floyd.

Berry, who was placed on a one-year probation for protesting the 2019 Pan America Games, took issue with USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland's letter to U.S. Olympic athletes saying it stands "with those who demand equality." 

"I want an apology letter .. mailed .. just like you and the IOC MAILED ME WHEN YOU PUT ME ON PROBATION," Berry tweeted Tuesday, "stop playing with me."

The U.S. Olympic track and field athlete later tweeted, "I want a Public (apology) now. I lied." 

I want an apology letter .. mailed .. just like you and the IOC MAILED ME WHEN YOU PUT ME ON PROBATION.. stop playing with me https://t.co/qCWGINHg8M

Berry is African-American. She and fencer Race Imboden protested on the podium at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru — where Berry won gold in the hammer throw. Berry raised a clenched fist and Imboden took a knee to protest against racial injustice. 

Berry was subsequently punished by the USOPC for her protest by being placed on probation for 12 months, with a warning she would face a more severe reprimand with another protest. 

In a Tuesday Sports Illustrated interview explaining the protests then and now, Berry said: "When I took my stance, it was at a time when things were happening, but nothing was being done. When I took my stance, I was completely misunderstood. Now I feel like everyone feels how I felt."

The International Olympic Committee sent out a warning letter in January that any athlete protesting on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics would be reprimanded. The Games have been rescheduled for summer 2021. 

Messages made by USA TODAY Sports to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee were not immediately returned.  

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