Snowboarding star Shaun White calls harassment allegations 'gossip'

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- The buzz around Shaun White's gold-medal run at the Winter Olympics has revived discussion about a 2016 lawsuit accusing the snowboarder of sexual harassment.

At a news conference after he won his third Olympic gold medal Wednesday, White dismissed the allegations as "gossip."

Lena Zawaideh filed the suit against White in August 2016. The former drummer in White's rock band, Bad Things, claimed White sexually harassed her and refused to pay her. The lawsuit was settled the following spring.

In the lawsuit, Zawaideh said White repeatedly sexually harassed her, forced her to watch pornography and refused to pay her after she was fired.

The lawsuit included screengrabs of text messages allegedly sent by White asking Zawaideh to cut her hair a certain way and suggesting she wear a provocative outfit.

At a time when #MeToo and other movements are calling for more accountability around harassment and abuse, many are giving the accusations against White a closer look. After winning Wednesday's men's halfpipe final, White was criticized on social media and questioned about the allegations at a news conference.

Asked if the lawsuit might tarnish his reputation, White said, "I'm here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff," before adding, "I don't think so."

Reporters attempted to follow up about the lawsuit, but the conference moderator shot them down. White, who also struck Olympic gold in the halfpipe in 2006 and 2010, rushed off stage as reporters questioned him about the allegations following the conference.

"I have to get to the medal ceremony," White said while being ushered away by U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing event director Nick Alexakos.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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