Iain Dale is Leading Britain's Conversation.
2 November 2016, 07:37
Ian Collins Fumes At The Suspension Of Louis Smith
British Gymnastics have suspended Louis Smith over a video in which he appeared to mock Islam. Ian Collins can't see what the problem is.
Ian Collins leapt to the defence of banned gymnast Louis Smith, insisting he had done nothing wrong.
The four-time Olympic medallist has been given a two-month suspension after he mimicked Islamic prayer practices in a leaked video.
Mr Smith has said he was "deeply sorry" for his "thoughtless actions".
But speaking on his LBC show, Ian Collins labelled the ban "ridiculous" and said people should be allowed to have a joke in private.
He said: "This is just the beginning of his punishment. Just the beginning. My guess is that any sponsors that might have had an interest in perhaps endorsing him as an athlete may well think again, not because of what he said, but because of what the ridiculous Jane Allen, the chief executive of British Gymnastics, has made of this. It is her fault entirely now that this has come to where it is, not his fault.
"He had a joke with a mate. The last time I looked, you can do that. This woman has taken it to places it didn't need to go.
"Now he's going to pay a price, probably for the rest of his life. He's had tour mosques. He's had to be re-educated in the world of Islam. How ridiculous! He should have just said 'Do you know what, I'm not religious, don't believe any of it. So thank you very much for your kind offer but frankly I'm going to the pub with my mates.'
"That's what he should have been able to do, but of course because of this rather curious strange pressure, he's found himself in a position where he's had to come out pleading with people, "I'm not a racist".
"You don't have to prove yourself. Louis is not a racist. No sane person ever thought you were in the first place."