Lululemon director whose existence was questioned quits

August 9, 2016 2:19 PM EDT

A woman walks into a store of yogawear retailer Lululemon Athletica in downtown Vancouver June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Ben Nelms

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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - One of Lululemon Athletica's (NASDAQ: LULU) longest-serving board members, recently the source of online speculation over her identity and background, has stepped down, according to a company filing posted on Tuesday.

Rhoda Pitcher, who has been on the yoga clothing maker's board since 2005, stepped down on Aug. 3, the company said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, adding her departure "is not due to any disagreements with us on any of our operations, policies or practices."

Pitcher became the source of much controversy in June after financial news website The Street posted a blog questioning whether she was a real person when a reporter was unable to reach her for comment and could not verify her educational and work experience.

In a subsequent report, The Street said it had tracked down Pitcher, a Canadian, and linked her to a scandal-plagued self-help guru. The report also continued to question the validity of her Master's degree and her work experience outside Lululemon.

Reuters has not verified The Street's reporting.

Vancouver-based Lululemon did not respond directly to a question on whether Pitcher's departure was linked to the recent media scrutiny, instead providing a statement thanking her for her "long and valued tenure" and for "helping to shape the incredible roster of leaders we have in place today."

With Pitcher's departure, Lululemon now has nine board members.

Company founder and Lululemon's largest shareholder, Chip Wilson, in June criticized the retailer's board, calling for annual elections of the entire board to make directors more accountable for the company's performance.

The company, which said it added four directors in the last two years, said it thinks it has the best team in place to execute its long-term plans.

Lululemon has struggled over the last three years. It was hit by a high-profile recall of overly see-through yoga pants in March 2013 and Wilson's own comments that not all women's bodies are suited to the company's trendy "athleisure" wear.

The scandals led to a management shake-up, including Wilson quitting as board chairman and eventually leaving the board entirely in early 2015.

Shares of Lululemon were trading down 67 cents, less than 1 percent, at $77.85 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday. The stock has climbed 24 percent over the last 12 months.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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