Just days after Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas told Oprah about her experience with racial bullying in a televised interview, the owner of her former gym and some of her former teammates have stepped forward to deny Douglas’ claims, calling her story “fake.”
Douglas told Oprah, “One of my teammates was like, ‘Can you scrape the bar?’ and they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’ So I definitely felt isolated, I felt, ‘Why do I deserve this, is it because I’m Black?’ Those thoughts would go through my mind.”
But Douglas’ former coach, several teammates and the CEO of the gym where she used to train in Virginia Beach, Virginia, have all issued strong statements against her story.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Randy Stageburg, a former teammate of Douglas, told GymNewstics.com. “Gabby was never a victim, in fact many would say she was one of the favorites. I am not saying that she never felt bullied because when you are in a sport with a bunch of girls it is bound to happen. However, anything that she may have felt was never about race and I can assure you everyone at some point has felt bullied.”
The CEO of Excalibur Gymnastics where Douglas trained went furthest in railing against Douglas’ story, calling it an outright lie.
“Gabby’s remarks were hurtful and without merit,” Excalibur CEO Gustavo Moure said in a statement. “Is Gabrielle a credible person just because she is an Olympic champion? She is not giving any names or dates, leading us to believe that the accusation is fake.”
Douglas has yet to comment on the backlash.
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(Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)