Stephanie Rice

An Australian Olympic swimmer has lost a sponsorship deal after tweeting a gay slur against the Springboks.

Stephanie Rice, who holds the world record in the 400 m individual medley and won three gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, made the comment following the Australian rugby team’s win over the South Africans on the weekend.

“Suck on that faggots,” she tweeted, adding: “Probably the best game I’ve ever seen!! Well done boys.”

She was labelled “an idiot” by openly gay former Australian rugby player Ian Roberts.

“…anyone who continues to endorse her as an athlete is an idiot as well. And I say that with a very sad tone in my voice. What a fool. It is never acceptable to belittle gay people,” said Roberts.

Jaguar Australia responded by ending its contract with Rice as a brand ambassador. “We wish Stephanie success for the future,” the company said.

Another of the swimming star’s sponsors, Davenport underwear, said in a statement that it “…does not in any way condone the comment made by Stephanie Rice on her Twitter on Saturday 4th, September”.

Rice later apologised for her tweet: “I did not mean to cause offence and I apologise. I have deleted it from the site.”

She was supported by openly gay Australian Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham. “I don’t condone what she said, but I don’t think she is a homophobic person at all,” he said. “I don’t think she meant anything by it.”

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