Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Sport
During a recent interview, Gabby Douglas told Oprah Winfrey that her time training in her hometown of Virginia Beach wasn't always a positive experience. According to the Olympic gold medalist, she was treated differently.
"I felt being bullied and isolated from the group," Douglas told Winfrey. "They treated me not how they treated their other teammates."
"Was it was a sense of 'You're different and we're gonna make you feel that way'?" Oprah asked the athlete, known as the Flying Squirrel, following her admission.
"Yes," Douglas replied.
But the head of her former gym says he has no idea what Douglas, 16, is referring to.
"Gabby's remarks were hurtful and without merit," Excalibur Gymnastics CEO Gustavo Maure said in a statement to E! News in response to Douglas' claim that she felt "bullied and isolated from the group," possibly because she is African American.
"We've had more African Americans in elite and on the national team than any other gym in the country (5, 2 of them in Olympic Trials or Olympic Team Camp)," Maure continued. "Her African-American former teammates will answer this serious accusation. (1st statement untruth, she was not the only African-American gymnast training in the gym.) We are good people. We never were knowingly involved in any type of bullying or racist treatment, like she is accusing Excalibur."
Another gymnast who trained at the same Virginia Beach location for eight years -- two of them overlapping with Douglas -- says Gabby's claims are "ridiculous."
"The accusations that are being made against the gymnasts and coaches are just sickening," Randy Stageburg wrote to Gymnewstics.com. "Gabby was never a victim, in fact many would say she was one of the favorites."
Oprah's interview with Douglas will air Sunday on OWN at 8:30 p.m
Watch our exclusive interview with Gabby Douglas here: