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h0387 BC-OLY-CYC-Cyclists-Mas 09-08 0405

USOC to meet with cyclists

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — "Sorry" seems to be the hardest word for four American Olympic cyclists who wore masks at the Beijing airport. Now, the U.S. Olympic Committee wants to end the issue for good.

USOC officials will talk this week with the cyclists who wore masks when they got off the plane in Beijing. The cyclists apologized for offending the Olympic hosts, but now they are seeking an apology from the USOC for making them say they were sorry.

"If they have questions or concerns, we want to hear those, address them and bring closure to the matter," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said Monday.

Cyclists Michael Friedman, Sarah Hammer, Bobby Lea and Jennie Reed had their attorney send a letter last week to the leadership of the Athletes Advisory Council saying the flap was "emotionally devastating" and had a negative affect on their Olympic performances. Of the four, only Hammer managed a top-five finish. She and Reed were considered medal contenders.

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The cyclists want an apology from the USOC.

It made big news, and upon learning what an effect their actions had, the athletes met with USOC officials and drafted an apology that was sent to the media via the federation.

"We deeply regret the nature of our choices," the apology read. "Our decision was not intended to insult BOCOG or countless others who have put forth a tremendous amount of effort to improve the air quality in Beijing."

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