Robbie McEwen, former Australian cyclist-turned commentator and a three-time winner of the Tour de France points classification, has apologised after using a homophobic slur on live television. 

The incident occurred last week during the broadcast of stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia on Eurosport and GCN+. 

Trigger Warning: This story discusses the use of a homophobic slur, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

“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,” McEwen posted on Twitter. 

McEwen Used Homophobic Slur

McEwen is considered to be one of Australia’s greatest cyclists of all time and at his peak was known as world’s fastest sprinter. He turned to sports commentary in 2012 after his retirement and is a widely respected sports commentator. Earlier this year, SBS Australia released him after his contract with the national broadcaster ended and McEwen joined Global Cycling Network. 

On Wednesday, May 19, McEwen was discussing his lunch on-air with his colleague Rob Hatch. During the broadcast, Hatch said that he had bought some fudge on his way back from his lunch break, but had finished it already. 

“You’ve gone in the fudge shop and you’ve consumed it straight away. The fudge packers were wasting their time,” responded McEwen. 

“Fudge packers” is a derogatory and homophobic slur that is used against gay men. McEwen was slammed for his on-air comments on social media. 

‘Commentary That Mocks Can Be Painful’

US Colorado-based out professional race car driver Evan Darling responded to McEwen’s apology by pointing out the impact of such slurs on the LGBTQI community. 

“I’m a cyclist, racer and a Gay man living in a country where living truthfully is challenging every day. Commentary that mocks can be painful, especially when said by people you respect/enjoy listening to. It takes a bite out of you every time. Thanks for apologies and we move on,” said Evans. 

GCN also posted an apology. “Cycling is a sport for all & everyone should feel welcome. 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,” GCN said on Twitter.


If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.



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