Trieste half marathon restricts African competitors

ROME (AP) — The Italian athletics federation opened an investigation on Saturday after Trieste Half Marathon organizers restricted the participation of African athletes in the May 5 race.

Organizers denied accusations of racism, with race manager Fabio Carini claiming they wanted to stop the exploitation of African runners.

“In reference to news in the press and to the ensuing controversy about the Trieste Half Marathon, the Italian athletics federation communicates that its federal court has immediately opened an investigation aimed at ascertaining the facts and possible violations of the rules and regulations committed by clubs affiliated to FIDAL or by its members,” the Italian athletics federation (FIDAL) said in a statement.

Carini announced the restriction on Friday, but he and local officials said African runners can still directly sign up for the race.

“This year we have decided only to hire European athletes until measures are taken to regulate the trade in high-value African athletes, who are simply exploited,” Carini said. “This is something we cannot accept anymore.

“Many organizers endure pressure from managers who exploit athletes and offer them at very low costs: Which is a detriment to their dignity and damages Italian and European athletes, who are not hired because they cost more.”

Isabella de Monte, a member of the European Parliament with the Democratic Party, said the only way to react was “outrage.”