Trieste half-marathon organizers spark outrage after banning African runners

Athletes compete in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

(CNN)Organizers of an Italian half-marathon have backed down after their decision to ban African athletes from participating sparked outrage and led to allegations of racism.

The head of the May 5 race in Trieste, northeast Italy, had claimed the controversial decision was made to highlight an exploitative "trade" in African athletes.
But the ban has been reversed after prompting fury from several politicians, who attacked the choice as racist and condemned prominent far-right politicians for stoking such cases of racial division in the country.
    "This year we have decided only to take European athletes to make the point that measures must be taken to regulate what is currently a trade in high-value African athletes," race organizer Fabio Carini told newspaper La Repubblica on Saturday.
      He added that African athletes "are purely and simply exploited, which is something we can no longer accept."
      The reasoning was labeled an "ignoble, shameless excuse" by Italian MEP Isabella De Monte, while Nicola Fratoianni, secretary of the Italian Left party, called on Italian and international sports bodies to "speak up and take action."