VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Gabby Douglas former coach and teammate told WAVY.com they are hurt and confused over her claims of racism and bullying at a Virginia Beach gym.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired last weekend, Douglas told Winfrey a teammate called her "slave" during gymnastics training, making her feel isolated and bullied.
"I felt [I was] being bullied and so then [I was] isolated from the group and they treated me not how they would treat their other teammates," Douglas told Winfrey. "One of my teammates was like, 'Could you scrape the bar?' and they were like, 'Why doesn't Gabby do it, she's our slave.'"
Douglas told Winfrey she was the only African American at the gym. However, when 10 On Your Side visited Excalibur gym in Virginia Beach, Douglas' old coaches and teammates said this was not true.
Morgan Evans, also an African American, competed with Douglas and watched the interview where Douglas claimed she was bullied.
"It was shocking to me because when she was here, I thought she was pretty happy," Evans said.
Dena Walker, Douglas' former coach, says she was shocked by the allegations.
"It was like a slap in the face. I couldn't believe it," Walker said.
Walker says she was unaware of the "slave" comments.
"I've never heard that once in my life," Walker said.
Walker admitted the girls bicker, but assured WAVY.com comments like that are not tolerated in her gym.
Evans told us she has never felt uncomfortable at Excalibur where she is now a coach.
"I can't represent this whole gym just because I'm African American and I had a good experience here," Evans said. "Gabby has no reason to lie, but the truth always has a way of being over-exaggerated."
Walker agrees with Evans.
"If you tell somebody something enough times when they are young, they start to believe it and I feel like that's what's happened," Walker said. "I feel like somebody has told her what she needs to say and that she's just doing what she's told."
WAVY.com could not reach Douglas for comment on this story. Her family did not want to comment.
Gustavo Moure, CEO of Excalibur sent WAVY.com the following statement:
We have, indeed, provided an environment where all our gymnasts can thrive. 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). 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. Do you know Gabby and her mother to know certainly how much you can trust them? Mrs. Hawkins expressed (in the media) different causes for Gabby to leave Excalibur during the last 2 years, the bullying/racial issue seems to be her latest attempt as making Excalibur look bad. If Gabby was suffering from bullying, why didn't Mrs. Hawkins ever mention it while Gabby was training here or complain after she left Excalibur? I wish to defend the children that trained with her and supported her when she attacks them with these 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. 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. We teach from the heart, but we don't have access to the media as she does. Countless African American Excalibur members will answer her accusations. Were any of the statements of the other gymnasts shown in the program? The coaches statement was changed with an apology from Oprah Production, "We know how you feel but that is the best we can do."
The lies have short legs. We believe that with Gods help and the help of good people, the truth will come to the surface. It is a matter of time.
Gustavo E Moure
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