A retired gymnast from Northern Ireland has found himself embroiled in controversy after the emergence of a video appearing to show him mocking Islamic prayers with Team GB’s Olympic medallist Louis Smith.
Luke Carson, who competed in the Commonwealth Games in 2014 before his retirement due to injury last year, is shown in the video laughing while pretending to pray and shouting the Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar”, meaning ‘God is great’.
British Gymnastics have confirmed they are investigating. In a statement posted to their website, the governing body said: “We would like to make our position known with regards to media reports involving Louis Smith and Luke Carson.
“British Gymnastics does not condone the mocking of any faith or religion and is appalled by such behaviours. Gymnastics is an inclusive sport and we are proud of members who portray the inclusive values of British Gymnastics. Members who break our code of conduct can face suspension or expulsion from our organisation. We will be investigating the behaviours reported.”
Both athletes have since apologised.
Mr Carson, from Lisburn, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise for my recent behaviour.
“It was an act that showed extreme poor judgment and one I truly regret. My insensitive actions were offensive, immature and careless. I have a responsibility to myself and others to act in a respectful and dignified way which in this case I failed to do. I do truly offer my sincerest apology for any offence caused.”
Louis Smith said: “I am deeply sorry for the recent video you may have seen. I am not defending myself, what I did was wrong.
“I recognise the severity of my mistake and hope it can be used as an example of how important it is to respect others at all times.
“I have learnt a valuable life lesson and I wholeheartedly apologise.”
Mr Carson competed in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow despite having broken his left leg on two occasions in the previous two years.
He has competed in five world championships, eight European championships and multiple World Cups, and has won Irish national titles and Northern European medals.
Louis Smith claimed silver in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio this year.