The chief executive of CrossFit has quit after causing offence with remarks about the death of George Floyd and the resulting protests.
Greg Glassman stepped down after athletes, gyms and sportswear firms cut ties with his $4bn (£3.1bn) brand.
Mr Glassman acknowledged having caused a “rift” in the CrossFit community.
His exit came on the day of Floyd’s funeral in Texas. The unarmed black man died last month after a policeman in Minneapolis knelt on his neck.
What was the controversy?
In reply to a public health body saying racism was a public health issue, Greg Glassman tweeted on Saturday night: “It’s FLOYD-19”, an apparent reference to Covid-19.
He followed it up with a second tweet saying: “Your failed model quarantined us and now you’re going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd’s brutal murder sparked riots nationally.”
He also called an affiliate “delusional” for questioning why CrossFit had been silent on the killing in Minneapolis.
According to Buzzfeed, hours before posting the fateful tweets, Mr Glassman had told gym owners on a private Zoom call: “We’re not mourning for George Floyd – I don’t think me or any of my staff are.
“Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it’s the white thing to do.”
How did Glassman resign?
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Glassman said: “I’m stepping down as CEO of CrossFit, Inc, and I have decided to retire.
“On Saturday I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members.”
He added: “I cannot let my behaviour stand in the way of HQ’s or affiliates’ missions. They are too important to jeopardise.”
His statement was followed by another from Dave Castro, his successor at the helm of the company.
The incoming CEO said: “CrossFit is a community – one that is global, diverse, and tough.”
He added: “Our community is hurt, though. Our shared bond brings together millions of people with differing opinions, viewpoints, and experiences.”
Mr Glassman conceived the company as a high school gymnast in his parents’ garage in California. It is now affiliated with an estimated 13,000 gyms worldwide.
More on George Floyd’s death
What was the response to his remarks?
Hundreds of affiliate gyms have removed CrossFit from their branding.
One of these gyms, Petworth Fitness in Washington DC – formerly CrossFit Petworth – wrote on Instagram: “For a brand that has preached about being ‘for all’, the deafening silence on current and past issues of racism tells us all we need to know.”
It added that it would donate its annual affiliate fee – $3,000 – to the Black Lives Matter DC and Know Your Rights anti-racist campaign groups.
Adidas AG, which owns Reebok, also issued a statement confirming it was ending its relationship with CrossFit.
“Recently, we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” the company said in a statement to AFP news agency.
Several CrossFit athletes also criticised the company.
Four-time CrossFit Games champion Matthew Fraser praised a colleague for disaffiliating from the company, while Olympian and three-time CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey said she was “incredibly saddened, disappointed and frustrated” with Mr Glassman’s comments.
Icelandic CrossFit athlete Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir also posted screenshots of Mr Glassman’s tweet and email, and said she was “ashamed, disappointed and angry”.