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Tweet attributed to AOC about Olympic athletes is fake

July 6, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: An image on Instagram shows a tweet from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stating, “If you smoke pot you can be disqualified from the Olympics but if you are a biological man who takes a year of estrogen you can compete against the ladies in weightlifting.”

AP ASSESSMENT: False. The tweet was fabricated. There is no record Ocasio-Cortez made a statement comparing banning athletes for smoking marijuana with allowing transgender athletes who undergo hormone therapy in order to compete.

THE FACTS: On Friday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson accepted a one-month suspension after testing positive for marijuana. Her win in the Olympic trials was also disqualified, The Associated Press reported.

In the midst of the decision, social media users took the opportunity to spread misinformation.

On Monday, a manipulated image spread on Instagram, which appeared to show a tweet from Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents New York. The tweet says, “So, just to get this straight, if you smoke pot you can be disqualified from the Olympics but if you are a biological man who takes a year of estrogen you can compete against the ladies in weightlifting.”

The post contrasts Richardson’s suspension with the qualification of weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who is recognized as the first openly transgender Olympic athlete, to compete in the women’s super-heavyweight division at the Olympics.

But the image of the tweet was manipulated and Ocasio-Cortez never made this statement.

“The post is false,” Lauren Hitt, communications director for Ocasio-Cortez, said in an email.

Searches on Wayback Machine and ProPublica’s Politwoops database also failed to show any such tweet from the congresswoman.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536