Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabrielle Douglas told Oprah Winfrey that her days at a gym in Virginia Beach were uncomfortable and that she felt bullied and isolated, a claim the gym’s owner calls hurtful and her former coach and teammates flat out deny.

Douglas and her mother, Natalie Hawkins, revealed to Winfrey on Sunday’s “Oprah’s Next Chapter” that some of the bullying was racial in nature, describing one incident involving the scraping of the bars in the gym. “They’re like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it? She’s our slave.”

The head of Excalibur Gymnastics, Gustavo Maure, told E! News, “Gabby’s remarks were hurtful and without merit.”

“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 athlete who trained at Excalibur for eight years (two of them alongside Douglas, she said) stated that Douglas’ comments were “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.”

Additionally, the mother of a former Douglas teammate wrote on the gym’s Facebook page that her daughter and the future Olympian were close friends and also posted a picture of the two girls.

“I don’t claim to know everything that happened in the situation with the gym and and its gymnast who is now an Olympic athlete, but I do know that my daughter loved her like a sister for 7 years,” wrote Kim Hedeland. “They were often partnered during training and slept in the same room during travel meets. They attended birthday parties and sleepovers together…My daughter says that she was one of her best friends at the gym and was very sad when she left.”

“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.”

Supporters of Douglas wrote on Excalibur’s page, as well, with one woman writing, “I find it really gross that a gym run by, apparently adults, would come out of the gate and defame and publicly ridicule a 16-year old young woman for speaking of her experiences with other female gymnasts.”

Below, her former coach and teammates at Excalibur refute Gabby’s claims to a Virginia Beach news affiliate.

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11 thoughts on “VIDEO: Gabby Douglas’ Ex-Gym ‘Shocked’ Over Racist, Bully Claims

  1. I’m Black
    I’m African American
    I’m just American
    I’m colored
    I’m Haitian
    I’m Rastafarian
    I’m Jamaican
    I’m Nigerian American
    I’m Bahamian
    I’m Afro American
    I’m Bi-Racial
    I’m Human can’t we all just get along
    And the white man says you all are just Ngers
    And I’m African dwelling in the wilderness of the beast North America
    WHERE DID YOUR FAMILIES BOAT LAND? Dam we need to thightin up

  2. This is typical behavior of those who disrespect others in private only to deny it in public. The gym’s defensive response proves that they promoted a culture where this kind of ignorance could (and did) happen. They are playing themselves by questioning this young lady’s experience and credibility. What does she have to gain by telling the truth about racism in America? She couldn’t say anything back then because she lacked the power. Now that she has some power, she can tell of her ordeal.

  3. Why would a mother and daughter come out with a lie like this knowing it would kill all her big endorsement deals? Personally I believe them and if it’s not true it could cover all the other young Black girls in the sport of gymnastics that has felt the pain of racism I could only imagine the untold stories. One thing is certain the behavior of whites as it pertains to racism will remain the same as long as Black people refuse to come together and leave the bosom of white people. Now she’s going to have to suck up to them for endorsements that lesser talent routinely receives and you know what black people are going to do sit back and watch then wait until it happens to the next young African American. [ BLACK NATIONAL TREASURY ] is long past due. Respect will never come until we get it together. 42 million The number of Black people identified in America in a 2010 Census. That makes up 13.6 percent of the total U.S. population. $ 4.00 out of my check a week x 4 weeks = $ 16.00 x 12= $ 192.00 now $ 192.00 x half all African Americans 20 million =’s $ 3,840,000,000.00 is that right and that’s only half the Blacks for one year. We can fix our own schools, and we can start to build things. Without having to ask the tea party House of Representatives. What are we scared?Let this Black caucus in congress keep playing games in this majority rule establishment we need to be taking care of our own business.

  4. loycetate on said:

    Amen PCDub! I sent my daughter to Karoli camp 20 years ago in hopes that she too could be the next Olympian at the age of 6, the sport screams racism! Those girls are hand picked and I don’t care how well a Black girl is if the judges don’t want you in the limelight your score will reflect that. I am sure that is why Dominique has so many tears! She was denied the Gold for years until she could not win. The judges took the Russian out of 3rd place and put Weber in so that she would receive “3” medals as opposed to Gabrielle getting all the glory with “2”. RACISM at its finest! The scoring is subjective as to who the industry and judges decide who will get the glory. Gabrielle could not be denied just like OBAMA, take a close look at 2016 scoring. We need a Black gymnastics camp because Black girls have the same talent as the whites but the sport just like golf before Tiger, are excluded! I hope everyone recognizes the potential in your girls knowing that the road ahead is tough! The previous camps want to take credit for her success but Gabrielle knows how she was isolated and comments made she has no reason to lie. Again, the sport is subjective as is the opportunity to excell. When a parent has to send their precious daughter off to strangers, hoping, they take care of them, it is traumatic in itself. It takes endurance and determination not to crumble and give up which Gabrielle wanted to do probably many times. This was her year and might be the only year if the industry decides. This year and for the next 3 years Gabrielle get the MONEY you deserve for all the hard work and racism you endured. OBAMA 2012

  5. Just want to be free of pain on said:

    I believe her and I will tell you why as black people we get treated in a sub-par way that is never talked about it because its always turned around that you are the problem.As a black man who has went to pvt schools did really well in sports..however in my classes you could count us on 1 hand.. white people will always dog you on the down low..they do it to you at work and in play,.for her to understand not to say a word casue that could get you sent home until after she handled her business is the right thing to do…now I know some of you are saying NO speak up and be heard.. take action….but if you do white people will turn the tables…she did the right thing..YOU GO GABBY….AND REMEMBER WHEN WHITE PEOPLE SAY HE OR SHE HAS A BAD ATTITUDE YOU KNOW YOU ARE DONE IF GABBY HAD SAID ANYTHING THATS WHAT SHE WOULD BE KNOWN FOR,,,GOOD JOB YOUNG LADY AND TRY TO MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR DAD YOU ONLY GOT ONE.

  6. oneorbetter on said:

    I really hope this is a true story because if she is coming out with lies to make her look better or like a victim she is not a role model for other african american youth or any youth at all. If that was happening to me I would not even want to go live in a house with white people which is what she ultimately did.

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