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Olympic gold medalist Shaun White apologizes for calling sexual harassment allegations 'gossip

Gold medalist Shaun White of the United States poses during the medal ceremony for the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Final on day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Medal Plaza on February 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. White now faces questions about a 2016 civil suit and sexual harassment allegations. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

U.S. Olympic snowboarder Shaun White apologized Wednesday for dismissing sexual harassment allegations against him as “gossip” during a news conference.

White was accused of sexual harassment in 2016 by a former member of his band and reached an undisclosed settlement with his accuser out of court. A reporter asked White about the situation Wednesday after White won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

How did White respond?

A reporter asked White if he thought the sexual harassment allegations would tarnish his reputation.

“I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff,” White said. “I don’t think so.”

Several reporters attempted to follow up on the subject, but the moderator of the news conference blocked further questions about it.

“I have to get to the medal ceremony,” White said as he left the news conference.

White, 31, won his third gold medal Wednesday, to add to medals he won in 2006 in Italy and 2010 in Canada.

White apologizes

“I’m truly sorry that I chose the word ‘gossip,’” White said Wednesday on NBC's “Today.” “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today. I’m just truly sorry. I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience, but yeah.”

White said he had learned from the experience.

“It’s amazing … how life works, with twists and turns and lessons learned,” White continued. “So every experience in my life, I feel like it’s taught me a lesson, and I definitely feel like I’m a much more changed person than I was when I was younger. And yeah, I’m just proud of who I am today."

What about the allegations?

In August 2016, Lena Zawaideh filed a civil lawsuit against White.

Zawaideh is a former drummer in Bad Things, White’s rock band. She accused White of repeated sexual harassment, sending sexually explicit messages, controlling and aggressive treatment, and refusing to pay her after she was fired from the band.

White settled the lawsuit with Zawaideh in May 2017. He denies sexually harassing her, but admits to sending her the text messages.

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