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Winter Olympics gold medallist dismisses sexual harassment allegations as 'gossip'

Snowboarder Shaun White reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement last year with Lena Zawaideh.

USA's Shaun White with his gold medal after victory in the Men's Halfpipe.
USA's Shaun White with his gold medal after victory in the Men's Halfpipe.

AMERICAN SNOWBOARDER SHAUN White dismissed sexual harassment allegations as “gossip” in an awkward press conference on Wednesday, hours after he won his third Winter Olympic gold medal.

White, who reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement last year with Lena Zawaideh, former drummer in his band Bad Things, was asked whether the claims had tarnished his legacy.

“Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip. But I don’t think so,” he said, speaking at the Pyeongchang Games.

“I am who I am and I’m proud of who I am and my friends love me and vouch for me. I think that stands on its own.”

When pressed to address the subject further, as the moderator tried to move the discussion to other topics, White said: “I feel like I addressed it.”

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 issue resurfaced as White celebrated winning Olympic gold in South Korea after a brilliant final run which included his first-ever back-to-back frontside double cork 1440 and cab (backwards) double cork 1440.

However, his joy was also punctured when anger erupted online after he dragged the American flag in the snow and got it tangled in his boots.

“I definitely didn’t mean any disrespect and the flag that’s flying on my house right now is way up there,” he said.

“So sorry for that but I’m definitely very proud to be part of Team USA and be an American and to be representing everyone back home.”

- © AFP, 2018

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