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Robbie McEwen apologises for offensive phrase used in GCN Giro broadcast

MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA OCTOBER 10 Robbie McEwen poses for a portrait during the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction Media Opportunity at Crown Entertainment Complex on October 10 2019 in Melbourne Australia Photo by Kelly DefinaGetty Images
Robbie McEwen (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Retired professional cyclist Robbie McEwen has apologised for what he described as "an offensive phrase" used during the broadcast of stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday.

Three-time Tour de France green jersey winner McEwen had previously been commentating for SBS Australia, but after being dropped from the commentary team went on to join the Global Cycling Network (GCN) team in early 2022.

In a tweet posted shortly before the finish of stage 12 of the Giro, where he was commentating on GCN's coverage, McEwen said, "I unintentionally used an offensive phrase during my commentary on stage 10, and I regret both saying it and not immediately apologising on air.

"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."

The phrase came in the midst of a discussion about the commentating team's lunch, when in a conversation referring to food he used a phrase that is a common homophobic trope. 

McEwen's apology was preceded by an apology from GCN, who faced criticism for removing the English-language commentary from GCN's race footage on its app after its immediate broadcast.

"Cycling is a sport for all & everyone should feel welcome," said the tweet, which was put out on Thursday. "We chose not to publish Stage 10 coverage until an offensive phrase was removed & we apologise to anyone offended during the broadcast. The full stage will soon be available in English without this section of commentary."

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