Louis Smith: British Gymnastics bans four-time Olympic medallist over video

Louis Smith
Louis Smith has won medals for Great Britain at the past three Olympics

Four-time Olympic medallist Louis Smith has been given a two-month ban by British Gymnastics for appearing to mock Islam in a video.

The video, filmed by the 27-year-old Smith but leaked to the media in September, showed him laughing while retired gymnast Luke Carson mimicked Islamic prayer practices.

Smith, who won pommel horse silver at Rio 2016, later said he was "deeply sorry" for his "thoughtless actions".

Carson was given a reprimand.

Smith, who won pommel horse silver at the Rio Games earlier this year, is one of Britain's best known gymnasts and won the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing in 2012.

He is currently taking a break from the sport and is touring as a guest celebrity on the Keep Dancing stage production.

British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen said her organisation had "no choice but to act responsibly" when dealing with Smith and Carson.

"It is regrettable that following a historic summer of achievement, the organisation finds itself in this difficult position with two high-profile members in breach of our standards of conduct," she said.

"Whilst both individuals showed remorse following the incident, we hope they use their profile to have a positive impact on sport and communities."

Former British gymnast Craig Heap, who captained England to Commonwealth Games team gold in 1998 and 2002, said he feared for Smith's safety after he revealed he had received death threats.

Heap also said he worried about Smith's "errors of judgement".

"We all do daft things," said Heap, now a pundit for BBC Sport.

"The problem is, when you become as successful and as famous as he is, there is always someone wanting to sell a story. When you are in a position of being a role model to young people, you have got to be extra careful."

Louis Smith on the Strictly Come Dancing live tour in 2013
Louis Smith on the Strictly Come Dancing live tour in 2013, with dance partner Ola Jordan

British Gymnastics said Smith's ban was a "cumulative penalty" because of a previous breach of its rules on conduct.

He was reprimanded in June for posting an image on social media of an American gymnast, who was 16 when the photograph was taken, accompanied by a comment British Gymnastics said was "unbefitting to a participant".

In April, he apologised for questioning the judging at the British Championships, where he was beaten to pommel gold by Max Whitlock.

The Briton missed last month's Olympic and Paralympic celebrations to visit two London mosques "to learn more about the Muslim community".

Smith said he had previously been "ignorant to people's religion" and added on Facebook that it was his responsibility "as someone of sporting influence" to exercise freedom of speech "in good taste".

Carson's reprimand will stay on his record for two years, but the 27-year-old from Northern Ireland, who retired in 2015, is still able to coach.

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