Gymnastics: Olympic gold medallist Gabby Douglas contrite for victim shaming tweet as Simone Biles stands up for Aly Raisman

Gymnast Gabby Douglas (pictured) was harshly criticised for saying women should "dress modestly and be classy" to avoid enticing "the wrong crowd".
Gymnast Gabby Douglas (pictured) was harshly criticised for saying women should "dress modestly and be classy" to avoid enticing "the wrong crowd".PHOTO: REUTERS

(GUARDIAN) - Gabby Douglas has apologised for saying that women should "dress modestly and be classy" to avoid enticing "the wrong crowd", a comment that drew criticism for victim shaming and kicked off a public rift between members of last year's US Olympic women's gymnastic team.

Douglas, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, said she was "deeply sorry" for a tweet in response to Aly Raisman, the US team captain at the London and Rio Games where both won team golds in addition to individual medals.

"I didn't correctly word my reply and I am deeply sorry for coming off like I don't stand alongside my team-mates," the 21-year-old tweeted.

Raisman, who last week confirmed she was sexually abused by long-time USA Gymnastics doctor Lawrence Nassar, had posted a message about the victim shaming weathered by women who come forward with stories of sexual assault.

"Just because a woman does a sexy photo shoot or wears a sexy outfit does not give a man the right to shame her or not believe her when she comes forward about sexual abuse," the 23-year-old wrote.

"What is wrong with some of you? AND when a woman dresses sexy it does not give a man the right to sexually abuse her EVER."

The six-time Olympic medallist continued: "Women are allowed to feel sexy and comfortable in their own skin, in fact I encourage you all to wear what you feel good in. I will not put up with any woman or girl being shamed for wanting to wear a skirt, dress, etc. I do not tolerate it. Are we clear? Oh and one more thing. STOP VICTIM SHAMING. It is because of you that so many survivors live in fear."

That's when Douglas responded in a since-deleted tweet: "However it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd."

The remark prompted widespread backlash on social media including from Simone Biles, who won the team gold alongside Douglas in Rio.

"Shocks me that I'm seeing this but it doesn't surprise me…," Biles, 20, wrote to Douglas, attaching a screenshot of the deleted tweet.

"Honestly seeing this brings me to tears because as your team-mate, I expected more from you and to support her. I support you Aly and all the other women out there! STAY STRONG."

Douglas and Biles are the only two American all-around champions to win multiple gold medals in a single Olympics.