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USOC places athletes who protested during anthem on probation

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Posted at 12:46 PM, Aug 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-21 14:46:23-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — NBC News reports that two athletes who took a knee and raised a fist during the national anthem at the Pan American Games will be placed on probation.

Olympic fencer Race Imboden and hammer-thrower Gwen Berry were put on a 12-month probation for their actions. Imboden took a knee while Berry raised her fist during their medal ceremonies.

NBC News cites a spokesperson from the USOC who quoted the letters from USOC CEO Sarah HIrshland to the athletes. According to the report, Hirshland wrote that Imboden and Berry "could face more serious sanctions for any additional breach of our code of conduct than might otherwise be levied for an athlete in good standing,"

She went on to write that she "applaud(ed)' the decision to be an active citizen," but she wrote Olympians must "abide by the policies" agreed to "in order to ensure the Games succeed in their purpose for many years to come."

Before the Games, all participants signed agreements not to make any political, religious, or racial remarks during the event. Imboden said he knelt to protest racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants and President Donald Trump.

"We must call for change," he tweeted afterward along with a photo. "This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze. My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list."

Imboden , 26, was ranked as the world's second-best in the foil event, and won a bronze medal in the men's individual foil on Tuesday. On Friday, he helped the US win gold in the men's foil team event, and then took a knee on the podium as the Star Spangled Banner played.

Berry took gold in the women's hammer throw competition on Saturday, and she raised her fist in the air at the end of the national anthem in protest.

"Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who's making it worse," she told USA Today on August 10. "It's too important to not say something."

During the Games, a spokesperson said their actions would be reviewed and warned they could be subject to discipline from the USOC. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee is headquartered in Colorado Springs.

(CNN Sports contributed to this story)