La Sportiva Drops a Brand Ambassador Over Cyberbullying Claims

Outdoor standout La Sportiva has dropped professional rock climber Joe Kinder from its brand ambassador roster amid claims of cyberbullying.

“La Sportiva is a family-owned company, and our ambassadors are an extension of that family. La Sportiva ambassadors agree to act professionally in all circumstances and at all times because their actions and words reflect on us as a brand. Due to recent events, we have chosen to end our relationship with Joe Kinder,” the brand wrote in a statement on Instagram yesterday. “Despite supporting Joe for many years and our admiration for his talent as a climber, his choices and actions on social media do not meet the standard of behavior that we set for our ambassadors.”

Kinder admitted via Instagram that he had a private account with a small group of followers that would make “inside jokes and memes poking fun at people.” (He also wrote that the account has since been deleted.) One of Kinder’s alleged victims is Sasha DiGiulian, a professional rock climber with sponsorships that include La Sportiva and Adidas.

DiGiulian took to the social media platform to address Kinder’s actions.

“I have received many messages about the ridicule that someone has made about me and my career. I have tried reaching out maturely, with no response. I find it incredibly sad that he has chosen this road. Perhaps because I am an independent female who has made a career out of my chosen path that irritates him?” DiGiulian wrote.

View this post on Instagram

As a community we need to uphold ourselves to higher standards than permitting defamatory, assaulting behavior. I use my social media platforms to share a window into my life- both professionally and personally, yet I also believe that this channel is a platform to have a voice and stand for what I believe in. This includes spreading more love and taking a stance against bullying. I am hurt and broken hearted to say that I am a victim of a bully and it has crossed the line. I write from the hospital, where I sit praying for the health of my family. I have received many messages about the ridicule that someone has made about me and my career. I have tried reaching out maturely, with no response. I find it incredibly sad that he has chosen this road. Perhaps because I am an independent female who has made a career out of my chosen path that irritates him? The second photo in this slide is one example of a reference he has made to me and Edu going to the Verdon, which I had to cancel due to my Grandma’s health. At the root of a lot of evil is insecurity. There is a line at which enough is enough, and I do not find it okay that a man can act like such a child, nor target women in such a vulgar way as he has done. I have chosen to write about this because while joking banter can be light and entertaining, this is not “light” content. This is malicious and ongoing. Behavior like this has dire consequences on the victim, including eating disorders, the perpetuation of gender inequality, and a misrepresentation of the pillars that I am proud that our community stands for. – Ultimately I want our community to be better, to respect people of all strengths, shapes and sizes for who they are. As athletes, lets use our platforms for good and work hard to push the limits of what us humans are capable of.

A post shared by S A S H A • D I G I U L I A N (@sashadigiulian) on

Kinder posted an apology via Instagram.

“I’ve always had a bit of a harsh sense of humor as I grew up a skater-kid punk. I’d rile my friends with pranks or nicknames, as it was done out of love. Fast forward to my adult years and I still enjoy joking and never taking ourselves too seriously but there’s a point when it’s too much,” he wrote. “Bullying or harmful content is nothing I’d like to be connected to and I’m not proud to have offended people.”

Kinder continued, “I went overboard and would like to publicly apologize, Sasha, I’m sorry. I respect women and support our current era for our women as we’re in a historical moment of time. It was not pro, kind, human, or yielding of anything positive. Social media is great and I want to share content to inspire and not cause harm. The brands I work with support women on a major level and I’m dang proud to affiliate with that. My actions are by me and I own it. I apologize to anyone that was hurt by my tasteless acts, I’m learning from this.”

Prior to being dropped by La Sportiva, another sponsor of Kinder, Black Diamond, parted ways with him.

View this post on Instagram

Social media has been an awesome way for most of us to reach one another on so many levels. My career has changed immensely with the ease of sharing stories to motivate or inform audience. It can be used in great ways or harmful. I’ve always had a bit of a harsh sense of humor as I grew up a skater-kid punk. I’d rile my friends with pranks or nicknames, as it was done out of love. Fast forward to my adult years and I still enjoy joking and never taking ourselves too seriously but there’s a point when it’s too much. Bullying or harmful content is nothing I’d like to be connected to and I’m not proud to have offended people. For a few months I had a private account that would include a small group of people on inside jokes and memes poking fun at people. (It’s deleted now so no need to search it out.) I went overboard and would like to publicly apologize, Sasha, I’m sorry. I respect women and support our current era for our women as we’re in a historical moment of time. It was not pro, kind, human, or yielding of anything positive. Social media is great and I want to share content to inspire and not cause harm. The brands I work with support women on a major level and I’m dang proud to affiliate with that. My actions are by me and I own it. I apologize to anyone that was hurt by my tasteless acts, I’m learning from this. -joe (Above are photos of people I respect and who teach me to be a better person)

A post shared by Joe Kinder (@joekinder) on

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