Glassman, responding to an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation tweet calling racism a public health issue, tweeted back: “It’s Floyd-19.”
Glassman’s follow-up tweet on Sunday didn’t help matters. “Your failed model quarantined us and now you’re going to model a solution to racism?” he wrote in his second reply.
He later issued an apology through the company’s Twitter account, saying he made a mistake in the words he chose. “My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake,” he wrote.
But the fitness group CEO’s controversial tweets had already sparked immediate backlash on social media and caught the attention of businesses that have affiliations with CrossFit.
Reebok, owned by Adidas, announced it would terminate its partnership as a main sponsor and licensee of CrossFit apparel. “Recently, we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” the sports apparel brand told Business Insider. “We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.”
Gyms such as CrossFit Magnus and Petworth Fitness announced they would end affiliations with the workout brand.
Athletes also condemned Glassman’s comments. Four-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning Jr. said on Instagram it was “impossible to stay loyal to leadership who make callous statements that alienate and divide in a time when unity is needed.”
Three-time champion Tia-Clair Toomey said she was “disappointed and frustrated,” adding that her future with the workout brand “is unclear and depends on the direction of HQ.”
This story has been updated with the apology Glassman issued on his company’s Twitter account.