Douglas is profiled in the October issue of Vanity Fair and additional allegations have surfaced about her former gym.
In Buzz Bissinger‘s piece, Douglas claims that a staff member at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia suggested she get reconstructive surgery on her nose. Douglas told Vanity Fair that the alleged comment was “very hurtful” and shook her confidence, according to her family.
This isn’t the first story detailing allegations against Excalibur. Douglas recently told Oprah Winfrey that she was the target of bullying while at the gym.
“I felt like I was bullied and isolated from the group, and they treated me not how they would treat the other teammates,” Douglas told Winfrey.
She also told Vanity Fair about a time when she returned to the locker room after a training session and found her shirt had disappeared.
“You don’t actually take by mistake someone’s clothes,” she said in the magazine.
Douglas also says that she was the victim of racism, saying that a teammate once complained about cleaning up after practice, suggesting that Douglas, their “slave,” do it instead.
However, the gym claims Douglas’ story is incorrect.
Dena Walker, a coach and financial partner at Excalibur, says that the nose job comment was a joke. She also reportedly insisted when speaking to Vanity Fair that the gym goes out of its way to ensure the athletes don’t feel threatened or bullied when it comes to gymnastics or anything else.
“We did with Gabby far beyond what are our coaches’ duties,” Walker said in an email to Vanity Fair. “We are proud of what we did. How is it possible … to not recognize that she reached [her] level with our help, our economic support, our passion and our love?”
Walker also claims that, at times, Douglas had a “bad attitude.”
Randy Stageburg, who trained at Excalibur for eight years (two with Douglas), was a little more outspoken in the wake of the initial comments Douglas made to Winfrey.
“The accusations that are being made against the gymnasts and coaches are just sickening,” she said, according to GymNewstics. “Gabby was never a victim. In fact, many would say she was one of the favorites. I am not saying that she never felt bullied because when you are in a sport with a bunch of girls it is bound 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.”
All the reported drama pushed Douglas close to quitting. But she eventually changed coaches and moved to a different gym in Iowa. The decision transformed Douglas as a gymnast, bringing out the best in the youngster. Not long after, she became one of the American stars of the London Olympics.
Photo via Twitter/@gabrielledoug