Gabby Douglas' Former Training Gym Denies Racism Claims
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas followed up her London Games success during a Sunday interview with Oprah Winfrey, candidly opening up about her gymnastics beginnings in Virginia Beach, Va. -- including painful memories of teammates who allegedly bullied her, even using racial slurs. But now representatives from that gym, Excalibur, are denying Douglas' allegations.
"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?'" 16-year-old Douglas -- who moved away from her hometown and her family in order to train in West Des Moines, Iowa at age 14 -- told Winfrey. "I definitely felt isolated, I felt 'why am I deserving this? Is it because I'm black?'" The first African American to win the All-Around gold medal, Douglas threatened to throw in the towel if she couldn't switch to another facility.
"The accusations that are being made against the gymnasts and coaches are just sickening," Excalibur gym's Randy Stageburg said in a statement to Gymnewstics.com. "Gabby was never a victim, in fact many would say she was one of the favorites. I never once heard her complain about girls being mean, funny how it is just now coming up."
Excalibur Gymnastics CEO Gustavo Maure echoes Stageburg's sentiments, calling Douglas' remarks "hurtful and without merit." In a statement to E! News, Maure went so far as to say Douglas made up the allegations.
"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," Maure seethed. "This wouldn't be the first time that the media has made up a story. Thousands of gymnasts and families have supported our good conduct and our professionalism during the last 30 years."