Snowboarder White sorry for branding sex claim ‘gossip’

Shaun White was criticised in US media after brushing off questions regarding an out-of-court settlement with Lena Zawaideh
AFP

Pyeongchang (South Korea) (AFP) – Snowboard king Shaun White apologised on Wednesday after he dismissed sexual harassment allegations as “gossip” following his third Winter Olympic gold medal.

The 31-year-old American was criticised in US media after brushing off questions regarding an out-of-court settlement with Lena Zawaideh, former drummer in his band, Bad Things.

“Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip,” White said early Wednesday following his win.

At a US Olympic Committee news conference, White also only took questions from male reporters.

Christine Brennan, the award-winning USA Today sports writer whose attempts to ask a question were ignored, later described the press conference as an “embarrassment”.

However in remarks to NBC television’s “Today” show aired in the US early on Wednesday, White apologised for his “gossip” comment.

“It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today,” White told the program. 

“And, you know, I’m just truly sorry. And I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience.”

According to reports in the United States, Zawaideh filed a lawsuit against White in August 2016 alleging repeated sexual harassment and an “authoritarian” management style.

The lawsuit alleged White bombarded Zawaideh with “sexually disturbing” videos, vulgar remarks and explicit text messages. 

In his interview with “Today”, White said he was a “changed person”.

“I’ve grown as a person over the years,” he said. “I definitely feel like I’m a much more changed person than I was when I was younger. I’m proud of who I am today,” he added.

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