In their efforts to defend their gym after Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas said she experienced racist bullying while training in Virginia, adults from the Virginia Beach facility have gone on the attack against Douglas, saying that she made it all up to make them look bad.
Douglas told Oprah Winfrey during on interview on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” that the treatment she endured in Virginia Beach up until two years ago was so nasty that she considered giving up the sport.
“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?’” Douglas said during her nationally televised interview. “I definitely felt isolated, I felt why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? Those thoughts would go through my mind.”
But Excalibur Gymnastics CEO Gustavo Maure released a statement saying that Douglas’ statements about her experiences at his gym were “fake” and “without merit.”
“Gabby’s remarks were hurtful and without merit,” Excalibur Gymnastics CEO Gustavo Maure said in a statement.”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). 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.”
Randy Stageburg, who trained at Excalibur for eight years (two of them alongside Douglas) called Douglas’ comments “absolutely ridiculous.”
“The accusations that are being made against the gymnasts and coaches are just sickening,” Randy Stageburg wrote to Gymnewstics.com. “I watched [head coach Dena Walker] and Gustavo put so much of their time and effort into gabby and the other athletes, no matter their race.
“Gabby was never a victim, in fact many would say she was one of the favorites,” Stageburg continued. “I am not saying that she never felt bullied because when you are in a sport with a bunch of girls it is bond [sic] 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. I never once heard her complain about girls being mean, funny how it is just now coming up.”
These defenses seem to be based on the belief that a child of 12, 13 or 14-years-old who is being bullied and subjected to racist treatment would put out a press release while the bullying was happening so that it would all be on the record. As many youngsters who were bullied when they were younger can attest, that’s not how children operate. Nor how the victims of bullying customarily respond.
“I wish to defend the children that trained with her and supported her when she attacks them with these allegations,” Moure, the CEO, continued. “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. 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.”
The man actually called the claims of this 16-year-old child “fake” because she didn’t provide names and dates? One wonders if he really would have preferred that she had gone on national television and called out the names of all the girls in his gym who acted racist toward her.