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Melbourne Boomers import Tiffany Mitchell has been vindicated after exposing an outdated Basketball Australia (BA) policy — that no longer exists in world basketball — as “clear racial discrimination”.

Key points:

  • The WNBL Commission has removed the “outdated” policy
  • Basketball Australia (BA) has apologised for the “culturally insensitive” protocol
  • BA will establish a review panel to ensure all policies and rules align to their diversity and inclusion values

The United States talent — and her Melbourne Boomers and WNBA champion teammate, Australian Ezi Magbegor, one of the rising stars of Australian women’s basketball — had been requested by BA to tie back or put their braids in a bun during WNBL games.

Mitchell detailed how the request — which, she said, was initially insisted on, despite their queries — had caused discomfort and placed a target on her back.

BA reviewed the policy and, on Tuesday, described it as “outdated and culturally insensitive”.

Both players were called and issued with apology letters, while the policy has been removed by the WNBL Commission.

Mitchell wrote in an Instagram post that it was “clear only the Black people in this league [have] these type of braids”.

She said Basketball Australia mistakenly believed the rule was still part of FIBA policy and that it “goes to show we have a long way to go for equality all over the world”.

“Unfortunate it had to be for these conversations to happen, but happy that Basketball Australia is held accountable and [has] become aware of the ignorance that was displayed in this situation,” she wrote.

A review panel will be established to ensure that all policies and rules align to Basketball Australia’s diversity and inclusion policy and are completely up to date and relevant.

“While this was a long-standing policy within basketball, it has no place in the game and we give an unreserved apology to any players [who] have found it offensive,” a BA statement read.

“We will continue to work with the players and clubs to understand and recognise issues and collectively bring about change.”