Shaun White has apologised after dismissing sexual misconduct allegations made against him in a 2016 lawsuit as “gossip” shortly after winning his third Olympic gold medal in the men’s halfpipe.
White has been the world’s dominant snowboarder for more than a decade, winning gold medals in 2006, 2010 and again this year, completing a comeback after finishing fourth in 2014.
As White was competing Wednesday, many on social media resurfaced the details from the lawsuit by a former drummer in White’s rock band Bad Things, in which Lena Zawaideh said White sexually harassed her and refused to pay her wages after he fired her.
The lawsuit was settled in May for an undisclosed amount, and White was asked during a news conference if the allegations might tarnish his reputation.
“I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff,” he said.
“I don’t think so.”
Snowboarder Shaun White dismissed sexual misconduct allegations as 'gossip' in an awkward press conference, hours after he won his third Winter Olympic gold medal.
Reporters attempted to follow up about the lawsuit, but U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing event director Nick Alexakos shut them down.
White immediately left the stage following the news conference while reporters continued to question him.
“I have to get to the medal ceremony,” he said.
White later said on NBC’s Today show he used “a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject”.
“I’m just truly sorry,” he said. “I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing [Wednesday] was and share my experience.”
Zawaideh’s lawyer said in a statement on Thursday the comments the snowboarder made at the news conference “directly impugn” Zawaideh’s character.
Bohm said Zawaideh would not comment herself.