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After Shaun White's Glory, He Has to Apologize Twice

Snowboarder sorry for belittling harassment lawsuit, dragging flag
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2018 10:56 AM CST

(Newser) – Shaun White pulled off the impressive feat of winning a gold medal at his third different Olympics on Wednesday, but subsequent headlines haven't been all flattering for the all-world snowboarder. For one thing, his win has brought renewed attention to a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him in 2016. Details and related developments, which include two apologies from the 31-year-old White on Wednesday:

  • One apology: When he was asked about the lawsuit after his win, White responded that he didn't want to address "gossip." That didn't sit well with critics, especially against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, and White later apologized on NBC's Today. "I'm truly sorry that I chose the word gossip," he said, per the Washington Post. "It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today."
  • The lawsuit: It was brought by Lena Zawaideh, a former drummer in White's band, Bad Things. She alleged repeated sexual harassment and wrongful termination, among other things. The Daily Beast has details of her allegations, including that White sent her "sexually explicit and graphic images" and made frequent vulgar comments. They reached an undisclosed settlement last year.

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  • Under the rug? At USA Today, columnist Christine Brennan sifts through the allegations—White allegedly shoving his hands down his pants and then trying to make Zawaideh smell them—and is incredulous. "Why in the world aren't we talking about this?" she writes. "In the midst of the #MeToo movement, how has White somehow flown under the radar?" She's also ticked that only male reporters were called upon at White's press conference, even though two female reporters had their hands up the whole time.
  • Flag apology: The suit wasn't the only source of negative headlines. White was pictured dragging the American flag behind him after his victory, and Bustle rounds up some of the heated reaction online. White explains: "I remember being handed the flag. I was trying to put my gloves on and hold the flag and the board," he said, per CNN. "Honestly, if there was anything, I definitely didn't mean any disrespect."
  • The medal: Prior to all that controversy, however, came White's dramatic victory in the halfpipe, and Alyssa Roenigk at ESPN writes of "the image that will remained burned into the mind of anyone who witnessed White's historic performance Wednesday afternoon: the three-time Olympic gold medalist, head in hands, tears streaking his cheeks, humbled and human at the bottom of the halfpipe." Adam Kilgore at the Washington Post says the win, especially after his failure to earn a medal four years ago, proves that White is "the unquestioned greatest snowboarder ever."
  • Different sport? Yahoo Sports raises the possibility that White will trade his snowboard for a skateboard and compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
(Read more Shaun White stories.)

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