RIO DE JANEIRO — Al Trautwig, NBC’s gymnastics announcer at the Rio Games, has sparked a furor online when he suggested the adoptive parents of American star Simone Biles are not really her parents.
“They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
Ron and Nellie Biles adopted Simone and her younger sister, Adria, in 2001. The girls spent time in foster care as Shanon Biles, their biological mother and Ron’s daughter, struggled with drugs and alcohol.
Trautwig’s tweet was preserved by many users who re-tweeted or screen grabbed it. The hashtag #FireTrautwig gained traction on Twitter.
— Jen Talley (@jenunexpected) August 8, 2016
Aimee Boorman, Biles’ longtime coach, also chimed in, tweeting: “@AlTrautwig actually they are her parents.”
@AlTrautwig actually they are her parents.
— Aimee B (@Salto_Coach) August 8, 2016
NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The network ran a profile of Biles on Sunday that noted she and younger sister Adria were adopted because their birth mother struggled with drugs and alcohol.
Trautwig was reviled by gymnastics fans even before the controversy on Sunday night, and he is often derided on the corner of social media known as the Gymternet.
On the podcast GymCastic, host Jessica O’Beirne said, “Could he be anymore insensitive and cruel? He is disgusting. How does he still have that job?”
Biles, 19, the three-time world champion, is poised to become one of the brightest stars of the Rio Games.
As her star has grown over the past three years, she has shared the story of how her family came together.
In a December interview at the family’s Houston-area home, she told USA TODAY Sports, “When I was younger, I was adopted by my grandparents, which are now my parents. I call them Mom and Dad. Everything’s just been so normal.”