An Italian gymnast apologized after making racist comments about U.S. gymnast Simone Biles following the world championship in Belgium last week, the Huffington Post reported.
After Carlotta Ferlito, 18, and fellow competitor Vanessa Ferrari placed fourth and fifth on the balance beam competition -- behind Biles -- Ferlito said "I told Vane that next time we'll have our skin black also so we can win, too."
She resulted to Twitter to issue an apology to Biles.
"I want to apologize with the Americans girls. I didn't want to sound rude or racist. I love Simone and I'm a huge fan of USA gymnastics."
"I've made a mistake, I'm not perfect ... I didn't think about what I was saying. I'm just a human. I'm so so sorry," she later added.
Biles, 16, is the first black gymnast to win the world championship.
The Huffington Post reported that David Ciarelli, a federation spokesman, posted a message on a government Facebook page and tried to partially defend Ferlito's remarks by associating race with athletic ability.
"Carlotta was referring to a trend in gymnastics at this moment, which is going towards a technique that opens up new chances to athletes of colour (well-known for power) while penalising the more artistic Eastern European style that allowed Russians and Romanians to dominate the sport for years," Ciarelli said of Ferlito's comment.
"Why are there no black swimmers? Because their physical features don't suit the sport.' Ciaralli also said that black people 'may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager or a general manager' and that they aren't good swimmers because they 'don't have the buoyancy,'" he added.
Ciaralli spoke with the Chicago Tribune and explained that he may have made a mistake in defending Ferlito.
"Possibly in saying this, I made a mistake, and I am sorry," Ciaralli told the Chicago Tribune. "What I said was my thoughts, not the official thoughts of the federation."
Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, said the Italian Federation and national gymnastics team need to clarify their comments.
"USA Gymnastics is disappointed by the recent comments made by Carlotta Ferlito and apparently by the Italian Gymnastics Federation," Penny said in a statement. "Gymnastics is a global and inclusive sport with talented athletes, and there is no place for racial insensitivity. We are contacting the Italian federation for clarification on its comments," Penny said.