Former French Minister of Sport and two-time Olympic gold medallist in judo David Douillet apologized Monday to Loic Bruni, Amaury Pierron, and Loris Vergier for remarks he made on the French podcast "Grandes Gueules du Sport" that insinuated that the three French riders only took the World Champs podium thanks to a home turf advantage.
"The thing that's weird is three French people on the podium and there I say to myself, we are in Les Gets, in France and there I say to myself, well, what are the chances? Isn't the course super well known to our friends? Isn't that what tipped the balance?" he said, translated via Google from French. "So I don't take back all the glory and the efforts and everything that has been done, but when I see three French people in a French downhill, in Les Gets on the podium of the world championships, I say to myself, maybe they had be a small advantage over others."
The athletes fired back that they'd been equally dominant around the world:
"Mr. Douillet, when you don't know anything about a sport or any subject, you refrain from judging," Bruni wrote on his Instagram. "I am a yellow belt in judo but I don't think Teddy Riner has been lucky all these years. With your career and experience, it saddens me to hear you disrespect our performance. Please stay away from our sport. The world downhill has been dominated by France for 4 years. You surely have the Olympic Games in your sights. But other sports are also exceptional and do not need your gratitude, fortunately."
"We did almost the same last year if you ever need any info don't hesitate… And it was in Switzerland… But there may have been an alliance with the Swiss you are going to tell me? 23 World Cup victories between us 3, but yes it's really suspicious these 3 guys on the podium I admit," Pierron echoed.
Monday, Douillet retracted his comments and shared an apology to the three athletes and all of mountain biking:
"I would like to apologize to our three world medalists: Loïc Bruni, Amaury Pierron and Loris Vergier," he wrote on Instagram
. "As well as to all the enthusiasts of this discipline of downhill mountain biking, whom I respect. Due to lack of knowledge, my questioning remarks on the radio on the downhill in Les Gets had no basis… I was wrong. Like many French admirers of the great champions: I congratulate you on your extraordinary performance."