Northern Irish gymnast Carson apologises after being captured on camera mocking Islam
Commonwealth Games gymnast Luke Carson has apologised for mocking Muslims in a shocking video.
The footage, taken by Olympic medallist Louis Smith, shows the gymnasts laughing while praying and shouting "Allahu Akbar", meaning "God is the greatest" in Arabic.
In the three minute-long video, Carson, from Lisburn, takes a rug off the wall of a hotel and kneels down to 'worship'.
Towards the end of the clip, filmed at a wedding last month, an elderly woman tells Carson that he's "not funny" as he waves his arms up and down.
But, through giggles, Smith tells her that Carson is "doing his six o'clock prayers".
Retired gymnast Carson, now a respected coach at Rathgael Gymnasium in Bangor, then shouts, "The prophet Mohammed" and continues to mimic the religious act.
On Sunday, the ex-international claimed: "It was a three-minute video of us just fooling around," but he has since issued a statement on Twitter.
It said: "I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise for my recent behaviour. It was an act that showed extreme poor judgement and one I truly regret. My insensitive actions were offensive, immature and careless.
"I have a responsibility to myself and others to act in a respectful and dignified way which in this case I failed to do.
"I do truly offer my sincerest apology for any offence caused".
Strictly Come Dancing star Smith has also used social media to apologise for the video.
"I am deeply sorry for the recent video you may have seen. I am not defending myself, what I did was wrong," he said.
"I want to say sorry for the deep offence I have caused and to my family who have also been affected by my thoughtless actions.
"I recognise the severity of my mistake and hope it can be used as an example of how important it is to respect others at all times. I have learnt a valuable life lesson and I wholeheartedly apologise".
But British Gymnastics have confirmed that they are investigating Carson and Smith.
In a statement, they said: "British Gymnastics does not condone the mocking of any faith or religion and is appalled by such behaviours.
"Gymnastics is an inclusive sport and we are proud of members who portray the inclusive values of British Gymnastics.
"Members who break our code of conduct can face suspension or expulsion from our organisation. We will be investigating the behaviours reported".
Reflex Nutrition, who have provided Carson with dietary supplements for a number of years, have also condemned it.
Before retiring due to injury after the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Carson won five World Championships and eight European Championships medals as well as a host of national titles.