ROME – Trieste half marathon organizers have denied accusations of racism after restricting the participation of African athletes in the May 5 race.

Race manager Fabio Carini claimed Saturday that organizers wanted to stop the exploitation of African runners.

"This year we have decided only to hire European athletes to avoid what is currently a trade in high-value African athletes, who are simply exploited," Carini said.

Carini and local officials said African runners can still directly sign up for the race, which was won last year by Olivier Irabaruta of Burundi.

Isabella de Monte, a member of the European Parliament with the Democratic Party, said the only way to react was "outrage."

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