Jaguar dumps Australian swimmer after anti-gay tweet

SYDNEY Tue Sep 7, 2010 4:34am EDT

Stephanie Rice of Australia competes in the women's 400m individual medley swimming final at the World Championships in Rome August 2, 2009. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Stephanie Rice of Australia competes in the women's 400m individual medley swimming final at the World Championships in Rome August 2, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Luxury car maker Jaguar has cut its sponsorship of star Australia swimmer Stephanie Rice, a triple Olympic gold medalist, after she sent a tweet using an anti-gay slur.

Rice, 22, tweeted "Suck on that f--gots" after Australia's rugby union team, the Wallabies, defeated South Africa's Springboks on Saturday.

The swimmer, who won both individual medleys at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was part of Australia's victorious 4x200 freestyle team, later apologized and removed the comment.

"I made a comment on Twitter on Saturday night in the excitement of the moment. I did not mean to cause offence and I apologize," she wrote in a blog on her website.

But Jaguar Australia general manager Kevin Goult announced that his company has withdrawn its sponsorship.

"Jaguar Australia today terminated its relationship with Stephanie Rice, who has been an ambassador for the Jaguar brand in Australia since the start of 2010," he said in a statement released late Monday.

A company spokeswoman confirmed the statement but declined to give any further details on the terms of Rice's agreement. Local media reported that Rice would be losing the late-model A$100,000-plus Jaguar that she has been driving since striking the deal.

The loss of a sponsor comes after Rice withdrew from the Australian squad for the Delhi Commonwealth Games after pain in her shoulder convinced her to have surgery sooner rather than after the October Games as originally intended.

Rice is also sponsored by Sunrice foods and underwear company Davenport which released a statement saying it did not condone Rice's comment but made no announcement about withdrawing its support for her.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Steve Addison)

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