Gym 'shocked' by Gabby Douglas' claims of racial bullying

8:10 AM, Aug 29, 2012   |    comments
Gabby Douglas during Monday's uneven bars competition in London (Getty Images)
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Members of Gabby Douglas' former gym in Virginia Beach are "shocked" and "hurt" over allegations the two-time gold medal-winning gymnast made about racial bullying during her time there.

Douglas told Oprah Winfrey in a recent interview that she was subject to racial taunts and comments while training at Excalibur Gymnastics in her hometown. She told one story in which a teammate told her to perform a task because she was their slave.

"I definitely felt isolated," Douglas told Winfrey. "I felt, 'Why do I deserve this? Is it because I'm black?' "

People associated with Excalibur were quick to rebut the claims to multiple news outlets. They say Douglas is exaggerating.

"Really, I was shocked and very hurt," former coach Dena Walker told NewsChannel 3.

The CEO of Excalibur vehemently denied the statement.

"I wish to defend the children that trained with her and supported her when she attacks them with these allegations," Gustavo Moure told E! News. "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."

In the Oprah interview, Douglas wasn't asked for name or dates when the racial bullying was brought up. She was asked a leading question by Winfrey - one that clearly had been discussed in advance - about her difficulties in Virginia Beach and then responded to Winfrey's request for an anecdote about the taunts.

The 16-year-old winner of the women's all-around nearly quit the sport two years ago before moving to Iowa to train with the coach of 2008 gold medalist Shawn Johnson.

(USA Today)

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