New CrossFit CEO Dave Castro, who was appointed Tuesday when the company’s founder stepped down following a BuzzFeed News story on comments he made about George Floyd, last year made a public show of ignoring a question about diversity in the organization.
During a press conference at the 2019 CrossFit Games in August, while sitting onstage alongside a group of competitors who were all white, Castro was asked by a reporter about diversity, then smiled silently for 15 seconds and changed the subject before ending the conference.
"This question is for Mr. Castro: So these are all amazing athletes right here but they all kind of look alike," the questioner asked while referencing the five white competitors sitting on stage next to Castro. "What are your plans, if any plans, to add diversity to the roster?"
In a video of the exchange, Castro is seen smiling as members in the audience giggle and yell “next question!”
“Tomorrow morning, the first event will start at the water at 10 a.m.,” Castro said after a lengthy pause. “Teams and individuals are going to do a water event that will start there. Good evening.”
In a statement sent to BuzzFeed News, Castro defended his response to the question.
“The 2019 CrossFit Games panel in question was to discuss the day's events, and the question wasn't relevant to the topics of discussion at the panel,” he said. “It is a worthy topic of discussion though because it's essential for our community. Our affiliates' trainers and athletes want us to move forward, and I want to do right by them and never lose sight of our mission.”
A spokesperson for CrossFit told BuzzFeed News that Castro “was thrown a little bit by the question.” They added, “He's Brown and Mexican-American, so a question about lack of diversity might have initially caused some confusion.”
The video of the press conference, which was sent to BuzzFeed News by a reader, has resurfaced as the company tries to rebuild its image after a tumultuous week that culminated in its founder “retiring” from his position after making inflammatory comments about Floyd and protests across the country.
Castro, the former director of the CrossFit Games and codirector of training for CrossFit, was named as the new CEO of the company after founder Greg Glassman announced his retirement Tuesday.
Glassman’s retirement followed days of backlash for the company after Glassman posted a racist tweet about Floyd, told an affiliate owner that “quarantine has adversely impacted [her] mental health” when she told the brand that her gym would not renew its affiliation with CrossFit because of its silence around the death of Floyd, and after BuzzFeed News published audio of private Zoom call where Glassman told gym owners that neither he nor his staff were mourning for Floyd.
“It is rare for us to speak on these types of issues. We struggled the past few weeks because we allowed our desire to get it right to paralyze us,” CrossFit said in a public apology announcing Glassman’s retirement on Tuesday. “Tackling social justice issues of this magnitude is not our strength as a company, because our varied points of view sometimes devolve into dysfunction.”