CrossFit LLC removed Buffalo, NY based Athletes Unleashed as an official CrossFit affiliate after a racially charged and derogatory email from owner Robby Dinero was reported by local news blog WNYMedia.net. The email was sent to a Buffalo woman in response to a request for a refund for the Liberty Games competition originally scheduled for March 28, 2020, which was postponed and eventually canceled.
- Dinero: “I will refund your money as soon as you eat my a** you filthy, foreign, third-world country piece of s**t.”
Upon learning about the email, CrossFit reached out to Dinero to confirm the authenticity of the email, which he didn’t deny and CrossFit subsequently canceled his affiliation on Friday.
- CrossFit LLC: “We are outraged and appalled by the language used by Mr. Dinero, which has no place in the CrossFit community. When we heard about the issue, we contacted Mr. Dinero, who did not deny using the language in question, so we have terminated his affiliate relationship with CrossFit, effective immediately.”
- Athletes Unleashed didn’t respond to a request for comment about the termination.
One big thing: CrossFit’s decision to proactively end Athletes Unleashed’s affiliation over the email stands in stark contrast to how similar issues had been handled in the past. It also underscores how important racial inclusivity and diversity is to new leadership.
- Under founder Greg Glassman, CrossFit rarely weighed in on the individual actions of affiliate owners, granting individual business owners enormous latitude even when their actions drew unwanted media attention.
More on this: Athletes Unleashed has made national attention in recent weeks for refusing to comply with statewide closure orders and kicking out local health officials attempting to break up a meeting.
- On Friday, November 20, Dinero and approximately 100 other local business owners had gathered at the gym to discuss protesting the new orders to close when local deputies arrived unannounced to break-up the meeting.
- The group forced local deputies and health department workers to leave the building according to a local NBC news affiliate.
- The Erie County Health Department fined Dinero $15,000 for breaking a regulation (NYS 202.68) and holding “a non-essential gathering” beyond the “limit of 10 persons” in response.
- Dinero ripped up the fine during a national Fox News interview saying that he planned to take this as far as he possibly can.
- He also made it clear he plans to open back up on Monday in defiance of the order: “My business is open Monday morning, absolutely, in absolute clear, utter defiance of the governor and Mr. Poloncarz.”
Dinero’s actions have since gone viral, receiving dozens of messages of support across the internet, even drawing the attention of CrossFit’s Director of Sport, Dave Castro, who reposted a video clip of the Fox News interview to his 762,000 Instagram followers with the hashtag #SupportYourLocalBox, which has since been deleted.
- According to CrossFit’s Head of Communications & Public Policy, “CrossFit encourages all gym owners to comply with local laws and adopt best practices to protect their members, so we can emerge stronger from this pandemic together.”
- “CrossFit strongly believes the best way forward is through engagement with policymakers, education about the importance of fitness to public health, and adhering to best practices established by public health officials. That’s why we are working with affiliate owners across the US and around the world to help them connect with their local elected officials, as well as building support for legislation in the US Congress for up to $30 billion in gym-specific relief.”