Balancing Athletes’ Safety with Return to Sport

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The following article posted by TrueSport ( is adapted with modifications by M. Schloder

Individual States, municipal governments, school board regulations, and sport federations most likely determine the return to sport as well as coaches and parents. Dr. Leon Kelly, county coroner in El Paso County, Colorado, one of the officials determining local policies around COVID-19, provides some advice about safe return to sport. In addition to this guidance to the public, he’s applying best practices as an assistant coach for his young son’s baseball team.

Understand the Balancing Act

Public health officials are facing a nearly impossible challenge of balancing normal standards of health and the well-being of children such as structured exercise, need for socialization, and concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Dr. Kelly, 

…Return to sport is the risk versus the reward equation. How much risk are we willing to tolerate to achieve the benefits? We know that sports are an absolutely critical component of health, socialization, self-esteem, and learning to overcome failure and disappointment. We don’t want to lose that…

When balancing the costs and benefits, the return to play has largely become sport specific. Sports that are ‘high-touch’ like wrestling, football, and basketball are unlikely to return this season in most school districts, but sports like baseball and tennis that are ‘low contact’ might be allowed to resume practice, according to Dr. Kelly.

Focus on Low-touch Contact Sports

“A single case can quickly lead to a large-scale outbreak, especially as schools reopen and athletes are in contact with more people on a regular basis,” Dr. Kelly notes. Many school districts may allow practices to resume but competition that puts athletes in close contact with teams from other areas is out of the question. If the sport is currently out of bounds for competition, consideration should be given to ways athletes could return to play in a format that is ‘low-touch.’ Even football teams may be able to resume drills that would allow players to experience social benefits while minimizing contact. 

Schloder: Obviously, the sport of wrestling is a close contact sport and would not be a safe return to sport. Dr. Kelly is making reference to team sports but does not provide suggestions for other individual sports except tennis. It would be valuable to provide suggestions for archery, athletics, equestrian, fencing, running, shooting, and swimming, for example. 

Keep it Small and Structured

Local guidelines may control the number of participants coming together. Even if a larger number is permitted, Dr. Kelly suggests keeping numbers low and holding staggered practices to mitigate any risk. There are also reduction strategies to consider for competitions. Setting strict rules about the number of parents who can be at the site is crucial. Create actions teams can do instead of performing the traditional ‘high-fives’ or hand shakes. Mask requirements need to be enforced for all, coaches, athletes, and parents alike. Consider holding virtual Q&A sessions for parents and team members about new procedures and protocols before team gatherings resume.

Ensure Proper Sanitization Practice

lose-up of a white child pumping hand sanitizer from a large container.

It’s best practice to discontinue communal handouts and to implement sanitization procedures as everyone needs to bring their own equipment and snacks. In general, teams need to ensure that shared equipment is regularly sanitized and that disinfectant wipes are always available. Create a list of equipment to be used at practice and indicate ways to keep it clean. Discuss and clarify personal hygiene requirements like hand washing at pre-practice, and then set strict consequences for ignoring these rules.

Consider Temperature Checks and Team Masks

Checking athletes’ temperatures at practices is smart risk management even if many younger children, who contract COVID-19, may be asymptomatic. This simple act of taking temperature – helps remind athletes of the seriousness of their health situation – and may even save a life. While wearing masks can be difficult for younger athletes, they are more likely to be convinced if it is made a ‘fun part’ of the team uniform. Maybe make masks with the team logo. Establish the rule that masks are to be worn during practice but can come off when out in the field.”

Create a Team Code 

…“In our school district, kids and families are signing a pledge to do certain requirements to mitigate the risks,” says Dr. Kelly.  “We’re promising that we’re wearing masks when we’re out, we’re not engaging in high-risk activities, we’re staying home if we feel sick… basically, we do the correct detail to be positive contributors to our school’s community. Consider a pledge for your team that both athletes and parents sign before returning to play”…

Change the Philosophy  

The culture of sport has always been to “tough it out, rub some dirt on it, and keep moving,” often a traditional philosophy. But in this case, the correct choice is … 

…I don’t feel good – I’m going to stay home or I’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and I feel fine, but I’m still going to sit this one out…

Hereby, the stronger decision isn’t playing through it, it is staying home. It provides the opportunity to help children grow and learn to be good teammates and leaders. “We just need to be realistic about what we’re going to gain from this year and maximize those benefits for the children,” Dr. Kelly concludes.


It is a difficult time for sport federations, clubs, parents, and athletes to decide if- or when the appropriate timing for athletes to return to sport is. Keep these practices in mind as decisions are made when and how athletes can safely engage in sports.


TrueSport. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from

And a bit of humour to make your day!

Tip of the Month – September 2020

Coach Monika Says…

Computer ‘Slouch Posture’ Contributes to Back Problems and More

Given the fact that all of our children and youth have been homebound due to the Coronavirus and busy with online schooling one can safely assume that many athletes have been sitting daily in front of the computer trying to advance their learning. Moreover, they are forced to stay inside because parks and recreation areas are closed, and most likely they entertain themselves with video or computer games. However, partaking in these activities whether online learning or gaming develops ‘poor’ posture due to the forward and rounded shoulder position. Researchers have warned about potential back problems when working in prolonged periods of time in the sitting ‘slouch’ position. This results not only in the rounded shoulder-rounded back syndrome but also starts to affect the lower back, back of the knees, and potentially the ankles!

German News and Magazines have recently posted a series of articles in their ‘Health’ sections, providing helpful exercises related to posture and occurring back issues. Here are examples:

Selected Exercises to Counteract Prolonged Sitting:
1. Sitting Variation #1

Assume sitting position on chair – head facing forward – legs bent at 90-degree angle – feet flat and parallel on floor – arms extended at sides by body – palms facing up – bend upper body slightly forward rounding shoulders – extend arms at sides by chair – palms facing backward – hold 10 seconds – lower arms to sides by body – sit upright – 7-10 repetitions – relax

2. Sitting Variation #2

Assume sitting position on chair – head facing forward – legs bent at 90-degree facing down – lean upper body slightly forward – head looking forward – extend arms out in front parallel to floor – palms facing inward – hold 10 seconds – lower arms to sides by body – sit upright – 7-10 repetitions – relax

3. One-leg Balance – Foot Support on Chair

Stand upright – legs together and parallel – head facing forward – arms extended at sides by body – bend L leg placing top of foot on seat of chair – 1- leg balance – foot flat on floor facing forward – maintain upright standing position and 1-leg balance – hold 10 seconds – repeat opposite leg – 7-10 repetitions – relax

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4.L-Sit – Upward Arm Extension with Shoulder Stretch

Assume upright sitting position on floor – legs extended out in in front (L-sit) – maintain erect back position throughout – keep shoulder depressed (down) – extend arms to vertical over-head, turning hands inward (toward body center) – interlock hands – keep shoulder depressed  (down) – hold 10 seconds – lower arms to sides of body – 7-10 repetitions – relax

5. Knee Scale – Arm Extension Forward – Opposite Leg Extension in Back

Assume kneeling on all 4s – head facing forward or looking to floor – straight arm support under shoulders – palms flat on floor – fingers forward – foot support with toes on floor or on top of foot on floor – back aligned – extend L arm out in front parallel to floor – extend R leg in back parallel to floor – hold 10 second – 7-10 repetitions – repeat opposite side – relax

Leg Variation: Instead of holding leg in parallel position, swing (whip) leg up and down 10-20x – relax

6. Body Bridge in Supine (Body Incline)

Assume supine position on floor (on back) – head facing forward – arms extended at sides by body on floor – palms flat on floor – fingers forward – bend legs at 90-degrees – feet together and flat on floor facing forward – use extended arm support to elevate hips to highest position possible – shoulder to knee alignment – hold 7-10 seconds – lower body to supine position on floor – 7-10 repetitions – relax

7. Standing Yoga Position

Stand upright – feet parallel and hips-width apart – head facing forward – arms extended at sides by body – extend arms to vertical overhead – bend elbows to ‘crown-shaped’ position above head – palms touching – fingers pointing upward – hands in ‘prayer’ position – maintain upright standing position – hold 7-10 seconds – lower arms to sides by body – 7-10 repetitions – relax 

8. Yoga Position in Sideways Bend

Stand upright – feet parallel and slightly apart – head facing forward – arms extended at sides by body – extend arms to vertical overhead – bend elbows to ‘crown- shape position above head – fold hands to ‘prayer’ position – bend upper body to maximum stretch sideways – depress shoulders – hold 7-10 seconds – return to upright standing – lower arms to sides by body – 7-10 repetitions – repeat opposite side – relax

9. Kneeling Back Stretch (Cat Curl)

Kneel on all 4s – back aligned – head facing down to floor – top of feet resting on floor/toes facing back – straight arm support under shoulders – palms flat on floor – fingers forward – round back (Cat curl) – hold 10 seconds – resume aligned back position – 7-10 repetitions – relax 

10. Kneeling Back Dip (Cow)

Repeat exercise #9 – head facing up – round back and drop lower back to dip position (back hollows) – hold hollow position 10 seconds – resume aligned back position – 7-10 repetitions – relax 

11. Bent Knee Stance and Forward Body Lean

Variation #1: Stand upright – feet parallel and slightly apart – head facing forward – arms extended at sides by body – assume medium knee bend – tilt pelvis to slight sway back (hollow) while leaning upper body slightly forward – extend arms out in front upward to lengthen the spine – palms facing inward – hands in ‘prayer’-position – head between arms – hold 7-10 seconds – return to upright standing – lower arms to sides by body – 7-10 repetitions – relax

Variation #2: Start similar to Exercise #11 

Stand upright – feet parallel and slightly apart – face forward – arms extended at sides by body – assume medium knee bend position – lean upper body slightly forward keeping back aligned – pull abdomen (navel) inward toward the back while rounding the lumbar spine slightly – head between arms – hold 10 seconds – return to upright standing – 7-10 repetitions – relax  

12. Hip Twisters

Variation #1: Assume supine position on floor – head facing forward – arms extended at sides by body – palms flat on floor – fingers forward – extend L leg – bend R leg at right angle and rest on top of L leg – use L hand to pull R knee toward L side as upper body follows – place R hand on R shoulder and circle shoulder – 10 repetitions of circles – repeat opposite side – relax

Variation #2: Assume supine position on floor – head facing forward – arms extended at sides by body – palms flat on floor – fingers forward – bend both legs – rotate both legs toward L side – turn head to R side – return –10 repetitions – repeat starting on opposite side, opposite hand on shoulder – relax


Die aktuelle (2020). Übungen für Vielsitzer [Exercises for those who sit too much]. #31, p. 65. See Sitting Variations Exercises #1 and #2. Exercise #3. Funke Women Group GMBH. Ismaning Germany.

Die aktuelle (2020). Bewegung bringt’s. Rücken schmerzen aktiv loswerden Movement delivers. Getting rid of back pain by being active]. #32, p. 66. See exercises #4, 5, and 6. Funke Women Group GMBH. Ismaning Germany.

Echo der Frau (2020). Die besten Yoga Übungen für Frauen [The best Yoga exercises for women]. #32, p. 54. Funke Women Group GMBH. Ismaning Germany.

Neue Post (2020). Willkommen in der Rückenschule. Wie wir Kreuzschmerzen vorbeugen und uns im Akutfall selbst helfen können [Welcome to the Back School. How we can prevent backaches and can help ourselves in acute situations]. #32, p. 60. See Exercises #7-11. Bauer Women KG. Hamburg, Germany.

The Psychological Implications of Returning to Sport Post-Isolation

Note: I had to take a mental break from the research on “Abuse in Sports” as it became too overwhelming!

I get daily Emails from SIRC Canada (Sport Information Resource Center) and find the article below extremely useful for athletes and coaches returning to sport during these hardship times.

This article was originally published on SIRC’s blog – sign up to receive SIRC’s daily newsletter and follow them on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn.

The Article was released August 5, 2020 

Original Post July 8, 2020 

By Lori Dithurbide, CSC Atlantic & Amelie Soulard, INS Québec 

Note: With some modification to original Text by M. Schloder

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As public health restrictions begin to lift across the country, the return to some form of sport participation will require adjustment and adaptation. As athletes return to sport, the virus is still present, and so is the uncertainty. The cancellation of sports events and the imposition of stay-at-home and physical distancing protocols over the last several months have caused many athletes to experience a loss of control, even loss of their sense of identity (Koninckx & Teneau, 2010). These feelings may continue long after returning to training.

With the return to sport, athletes may move through three phases of emotional challenges: 1) Managing the emotions associated with losing their bearings; 2) Making sense of the situation and giving meaning to the necessary change, and 3) Mobilizing energy and efforts to adapt to the new reality. What are the implications of each phase for athletes and coaches?

Phase 1: Managing Emotions

Athletes are going to experience different reactions and varying levels of comfort and motivation when returning to sport. This may range from joy and excitement to being with friends, returning to training, and looking forward to competition; or potential fear and anxiety relating to the risk of infection, the effects of detraining, or ‘being behind’ competitors and teammates. It is important to acknowledge these differences and increase our emotional awareness of others and ourselves.

Expectations for the first few training sessions should be low and focus on reconnection and relationships. If small groups of athletes and coaches are training together, allow time for them to catch-up and reorient themselves to the training environment. This is important for emotion management and supports adaptation to the new training environment, which most likely be quite different compared to pre-pandemic training.

It is also likely that athletes and coaches may experience some levels of mental fatigue once returned to their sport environment. The stress of adhering to guidelines, the new environment, and simply interacting with others following months of limited social interactions can lead to greater feelings of tiredness.

Phase 2: Making Sense of the Situation

The second phase is the ‘reconstruction of meaning.’ If an athlete’s motivation and commitment have not been affected by the circumstances surrounding the pandemic, they are a source of energy to move forward. If motivation and commitment have been altered, feelings of incoherence, lack of efficiency and effectiveness, doubts, and mood swings may be experienced (Koninckx & Teneau, 2010).

At this phase, physical and technical assessment is important as athletes may return to sport at different levels than in the pre-isolation phase. However, if they kept up at-home exercises and conditioning, they are probably not as far behind as one might expect. Athletes who spent time working on other aspects of their performance (e.g. mental or tactical performance) may find themselves ahead of the game once they return to their sport. Training and overtraining should be gradual to avoid injury, and both athletes and coaches have to remain adaptable as they navigate changing the restrictions and also renew goals (re-set).

Some athletes may return wanting to resume training at pre-pandemic levels while others may even question their return. It may be helpful for athletes and coaches to explore and discuss with each athlete the reason for pursuing their athletic career and goals.

Phase 3: Mobilizing Energy and Efforts

The third phase is ‘new balance’ when athletes return to focus on their performance. While specific target events may have shifted due to the pandemic, daily performance and process goals should still reflect the pursuit of long-term goals. It can be challenging to maintain motivation when the ‘finish line’ is somewhat unclear. To assist in this process, athletes and coaches should re-focus on short-term performance and process goals that are within their control that ultimately will support performance in the long-term. Athletes should also maximize the use of available resources and expertise (e.g., integrated support teams, coaches) to ensure their training plan and objectives are well aligned with the physical, technical, tactical, and mental aspects of performance.

At this phase (and any phase), athletes may find themselves struggling with doubts and decreased self-confidence. Coaches can facilitate athletes to challenge false beliefs (e.g. “I’m so behind”) with facts by regularly measuring and tracking progress, and comparing results with pre-isolation data. By setting and evaluating short-term goals, athletes can gain confidence and motivation moving forward, even in the uncertainty of tangible long-term goals.

Returning to training following isolation is similar to returning following a long-term injury. Gradual reintegration is key. However, one major difference between returning from injury and returning from isolation is the way athletes are likely to feel. Returning from injury, athletes might not be at 100%. However, returning from isolation athletes may feel the most rested or recovered they have in a long time. This may lead to athletes wanting to do too much, too soon.

Lastly, it is so important that coaches and athletes use the mental skills, creativity, and lessons learned during the COVID-19 public health restrictions and transfer them to the adapted training environment. As a result, a new reality will be created, confidence will return, and new ideas will emerge (Koninckx & Teneau, 2010; Deetjeans, 2005). Ultimately, we may realize that the pandemic has helped build athletes’ resilience and tolerance to uncertainty, develop transferable skills, and have increased their wisdom.


Deetjeans, M.C. (2005). Résilience et autodétermination : l’art de rebondir après la souffrance. [Resilience and Self-determination: The Art of Rebounding from Suffering]. Montréal: Les éditions Quebecor.

Koninckx, G. & Teneau, G. (2010). Résilience organisationnelle: Rebondir face aux turbulences. [Organizational Resilience: Bouncing Back from Turbulence]. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgique: De Boeck Supérieur.

The Author(s)

Lori Dithurbide (@DrLoriD) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University. Her research focuses on the psychosocial aspects of sport. She is also the Lead Mental Performance Consultant for the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic and the Canadian Women’s Artistic Gymnastic team, and has worked with high-performance athletes from a variety of different Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Amelie Soulard is a registered psychologist and Lead Mental Performance Consultant for the Institut National du Sport du Québec (INS Québec) where she works with boccia, wheelchair rugby, and other international level athletes from different sports. She also teaches sport and performance psychology at the Université de Sherbrooke and at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal.

Tip of the Month – August 2020

Coach Monika Says…

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Flip-flops 

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Based on my observation throughout the years, many coaches tend to wear appropriate footwear when coaching. The exception seems to be swim coaches shuffling up and down on the pool deck in their flip-flops, especially in the summer. I always use flip-flops in shower stalls to avoid ‘athletes fungi or athlete foot’ but have strictly worn strong supportive tennis shoes on deck for safety, protection, and health.

By Greta Heggeness 

Jul. 21, 2020 

If you are one of those people (athlete or coach), who wear flip-flops on a regular basis strictly out of convenience, you might be surprised to learn that they aren’t benefiting your feet whatsoever. According to Dr. Miguel Cunha, a board-certified podiatric surgeon and founder of Gotham Footcare in NYC, “wearing flip-flops can have negative long-term effects on your feet due to lack of support.” Here’s what he had to say:

1. Are flip-flops bad for your feet?

The answer is “yes,” simply because flip-flops put unnecessary strain on your joints. “I typically advise my patients NOT to wear flip-flops for prolonged periods of time as they allow the foot to collapse affecting gait and posture, which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot but to the rest of the body.” Dr. Cunha also explains the long-term effects of wearing flip-flops. 

…”Our feet naturally pronate during the gait cycle. However, when we wear flip-flops we pronate for a longer period of time, which then alters the biomechanics and distribution of pressure and weight across the foot. This imbalance may increase the progression of underlying foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes and lead to painful conditions associated with excessive pronation such as arch/heel pain, shin splints/posterior tibial tendonitis, and Achilles tendonitis. It can then translate upward affecting other parts of the body such as the knees and back.”  Phew, and we thought they were just easy beach shoes…

2. What will happen if I continue wearing flip-flops?

You may experience no symptoms. However, Dr. Cunha warned that flip-flops could exacerbate three major foot issues:  

  • Hammer Toes: Hammer toes are contractions of the toe caused by a muscular imbalance in the foot where the tendons on the bottom of the foot over power the tendons on the top of the foot. As the toes contract, they may become permanently bent in a flexed position. Because flip-flops do not have a back-strap, we must grip the shoe with our toes, further flexing and bending our toes.
  • Bunions: A bunion is a biomechanical imbalance involving the great toe joint. It is often described as a bump on the side of the big toe. Bunions start when the big toe rotates sideways towards the second toe and the first metatarsal projects outward in the opposite direction producing the characteristic bump, which increases prominently over time. Flip-flops lack adequate support of the foot, which further agitates existing bunions.
  • Heel Pain/Plantar Fasciitis: “The plantar fascia is a shock-absorbing bowstring like thick ligament that connects the heel to toes. When walking in flip-flops, the arch collapses causing this bowstring to stretch out leading to the formation of micro-tears in the ligament that can result in weakness, swelling, and irritation of the plantar fascia. It may feel like a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot when getting out of bed in the morning, after standing for prolonged periods of time, or when standing up after sitting for a while.

3. When is it OK to wear flip-flops? 

According to Dr. Cunha, it all depends on the activity. This means that short-term wear is A-OK, just as long as one is not doing strenuous work, like running or hiking. Flip-flops are only acceptable for short-term use if they have at least some arch support, a cushioned sole, and supportive strap. These types of flip-flops are appropriate to wear at the beach, around swimming pools, in communal bathing facilities and locker rooms at the gym, or around the house.”

4. What should I wear instead?

There are several alternatives, including a simple summer slide. A good way to promote healthy feet but also stay cool includes summer slide shoes (sandals) because they provide more support and stability than a traditional flip-flop. These shoes have a thicker and ribbed sole, which provides greater traction and stability of the shoe to help minimize injuries.” 

Ankle support is another key element because “Flip-flops aren’t as dangerous to your ankles as a high heel because the shoe is closer to the ground. However, select shoes with ankle straps, because no matter how high or low the shoe is, one misstep could cause a sprained ankle. Shoes that are secured on the foot with a strap offer support around the ankle and sides that hold the shoe steadily on the foot reduces the risk of a sprain.” 


The Dirty Not-so-little Secret in Coaching – Part III

Elite Sports – National Teams – College and University Varsity Teams 

Generally, society has fostered the belief that ‘sport builds character’ and that partaking in sports provides automatically valuable lessons for life. That is not necessarily so! It is critical now that athletes become more mindful of potential abuse within their organization, from coaching staff, physiotherapists, team doctors, peers, and come forward to bring such abuse into the public limelight immediately, and not after years or prolonged personal hardship, suffering in silence, in some cases in suicide attempts or ending indeed in actual suicides (Refer to USA Swimming). 

I previously reported on sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological abuse in Children and Youth Sport (February) and in the so-called Aesthetic Sports: Artistic Gymnastics, Figure Skating, Ballet, and Rhythmic Sportive (April). While I thought I had seen it all the findings have just about ‘turned my stomach.’ I was never that naïve to believe that it does not occur but that it was that rampant and ‘shuffled under the rug’ for decades by individual Sport Federations is absolutely disgusting – and what is worse – it still seems to continue! 

There is such a high incidence rate of abuse in so many sports that it looks like No sport is untouched. I decided therefore to separate the findings into several future Newsletters. Thus, Part III focuses on three major sports I have coached throughout my lengthy career: Elite Artistic Gymnastics, Elite Track & Field, and Elite Swimming. 

This report is very lengthy mostly due to the high incidence rate in USA Swimming, which resembles the USA Gymnastics sex scandal of Dr. Larry Nasser (April). The fact is that many of the accused swim coaches served on US National and Olympic Teams, and received National Coaching Awards while USA Swimming, individual clubs, and universities covered up such disgusting behaviour for decades! However, it needs to be addressed because Sport is portraying itself as the ‘pure and positive’ experience whereas it really does have a dark and dirty side – but not too many have the courage to reveal that ugliness.

Universal National Coaching Association – Requirement for Coaching Certification – And Quality Control over Sports Federations Needed

As stated in previous Newsletters, the USA lacks a single National Coaching Association with a required Coaching Certification program to oversee all National Sport Federations. However, any such suggestion or attempt for reforms have been resisted for years with the excuse of ‘freedom of choice and self governance.’ Lack of oversight for quality control, and the denial of abuse by coaches and staff from beginner to the elite level (according to my research) however has become a big problem. Hardly any sport at whatever level has escaped the issues whether sexual, physical, emotional or psychological with devastating results for the involved athletes.

Moreover, there have been consistent problems over the years with the ‘acceptance’ of coach-athlete intimate relationships (Refer to Swimming). The question here is whether this is actually ‘sexual abuse’ (being coerced into a relationship with the promise of national team selection or whether the athlete (being of age)-coach relationship is ‘abuse of power’ and/or has actually become an acceptable societal behaviour? The manifestation of such issues seems to be prevalent in Athletics (Track & Field), Alpine Skiing, and Swimming. 

Artistic Gymnastics

The Case: US National and Olympic Coaches Béla and Martha Károlyi 

I wrote about physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse in April. So, there is no need to reiterate these dealings. I am using instead the memoir by former Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu, who reports on her experience as an elite gymnast in the elite Károlyi training camp. Despite her fame, her life was anything but perfect! She describes the domineering characters: her controlling bully and abusive father, long-suffering, passive and non-interfering mother, and the ruthless Romanian import coaching team of Béla and Martha Károlyi, and cohorts. Her story details her experience and the abuse by the ‘famous’ coaching pair and their training camp in Houston. She basically reiterates the same horror stories cited previously by other US National elite gymnasts (April).

Dominique shares her haunting stories of hiding injuries and pain for years out of fear of retribution from her coaches, and how she ‘hit bottom’ after her heartbreaking public battle with her parents. She started training with the Károlyis at age 14 after her parents moved to Houston, and refers to them more like “handlers or managers than gymnastics coaches” (p. 84). She tells of the high turnover of their coaching staff, leaving due to the personal treatment by the Károlyis or being fired when they showed success with individual gymnasts such as in her case under Russian coach Alexander Alexandrov (responsible for her success in 1994 and 1995). As soon as he was fired Károlyis stepped in to take over her training.

Dominique was the youngest member of the gold-medal-winning United States women’s gymnastics team (The “Magnificent Seven”) at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. 

She won the 1995 Senior Nationals at age thirteen, ‘nailing’ her performances (due to Alexander) but Béla and Martha were all smiles while ‘taking the ‘credit.’

… Béla somehow always manages to plant himself perfectly for those camera-friendly moments – at times forcibly grabbing the spotlight whenever the opportunity beckoned. It was no surprise that he would often be a bigger star than the gymnasts – always charismatically putting on the show for Television, acting like ‘he loved his gymnasts,’ exaggerating his affection for us in the public (pp. 88-90)…

Béla enforced these instructions: Gymnasts are not allowed to celebrate their success! At the 1995 World Championships in Japan, Dominique was 14 years old. It was not the ‘Károlyi’ style to do mental preparation, and she quickly realized that she had to figure things out for herself! It is common to do a few ‘run-throughs’ of routines during pre-competition morning practice. Bella, however, made her repeat her routines 16 times as she had to push through pain and exhaustion! He wanted to humiliate her in front of other world-class gymnasts who were watching. He then accused her of having eaten too much although her weight was only 68 pounds at the time! He threatened to call her parents knowing that her ‘bully’ father, referred to as ‘Tata’, would punish her, lose his temper, and potentially hit her while her passive mother, afraid of Tata, would not intervene or defend her. 

…My body began to break down. They treated me like a human machine. I watched other gymnasts push through unreasonable and dangerous pain just so they would not have to admit that they were hurting. For me, it ultimately led to my body breaking down right before the Olympic games with a stress fracture in my right tibia. The Károlyis knew when I was injured – everyone in the gym knew – but they also knew that I would not dare to complain (p. 88)…

…Food was the constant issue with the Károlyis’, forcing teammate Kerri Strug (famous for being carried by Bela in his arms after injuring herself on the vault/show on TV) and myself to eat meagre meals at their table as they ‘gorged’ themselves in food! They loved to eat in front of us! There were daily weigh-ins and Béla referred to me as ‘little piggy.’ Whenever I started to gain weight, I would binge and purge during the week, and stuff myself on weekends. I hid some Gummy Bears secretly in my car as Martha was always searching for food stashed away in our rooms (pp. 94, 160-161)…

Overzealous Bully father – Passive and Non-interfering
mother Camelia, and Dominique

Dominique’s story is one of physical, emotional abuse and ‘psychological terror’ as she referred to her bedroom at the camp as a ‘death chamber.’ Broken and fractured bones, back pain, anxiety and depression were part of her career. The Károlyis training was one of fear and verbal abuse, and most gymnasts hated the environment but had no other choice because they were the National and Olympic Team coaches ‘holding all the cards!’ Personally, as a former elite gymnastics coach, I refer to such methods as a regime of ‘psychological terror’ (Schloder)! The sad part is that USA Gymnastics did nothing to intervene! 

 ‘Tata’ was not only a brutal bully at home but also constantly controlling her training via the Károlyis, who would report her as ‘overweight and lazy!’ She could not count on her mother’s support, as she was also afraid of Tata, whose temper tantrums often resulted in hitting her. On the other hand, she was involved in the Károlyi daily gym operation doing everything possible whatever they wanted her to do, including cooking and cleaning their house – all to smooth the relationship with her daughter. Tata became the manager of Dominique’s income after the Olympics, controlling all her earnings on the Post Olympic Tour to invest in building a gym, which later faced financial ruin. Dominique ran away from home at age 17, and hid among coaching friends while Tata was looking to find her, stalking her from the apartment to another training facility. To make the story short, she got an injunction against him, and asked the court for emancipation from her parents, and suing for any left over finances.

And it keeps going – Just in…


By Kay Jones
July 12, 2020

Former USA Gymnastics Coach Arrested  

Facing Charges Of Lewdness With A Minor

A former gymnastics coach was arrested in Las Vegas and faces 14 counts of lewdness with a child under age 14. Terry Gray, 52, was a coach at a gym in the city from 2009 to 2015. He made his first court appearance on Monday. Court records show that the alleged incidents occurred between 2007 and 2013. Gray also coached at gyms in Cincinnati and Southern California, according to multiple reports, and was suspended for two years in October 2019. CNN is reaching out to USA Gymnastics and the US Center for Safe Sport (USCSS), the agency that has jurisdiction over allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor. Gray was also the subject of a report by the Orange County Register showing he was still coaching at a club in Southern California after USA Gymnastics put him on an interim suspension during his investigation by the US Center for Safe Sport. The report states that the gym owner was unaware of his suspension. However, an email and first class mail had been sent to the gym about the case. Gray’s next court appearance is scheduled for August 27, according to court records.

Athletics (Track & Field) 

As the Head coach of Women Varsity Athletics (Track & Field) at ASU during the 1970s rumours swirled about sexual abuse and several intimate coach-athlete relationships in the Pacific Region. However, there were no investigations by any university. Interestingly, researching with the Google search engine for this newsletter on abuse in USA Athletics, the search encountered… “Files not found?” I did find several reports online using the Bing search engine. 


A number of coaches have been banned for life after public and athlete pressure although investigations ‘dragged on’ for several years.

The Case: Coach Dave Scott-Thomas

The University of Guelph fired Track & Field coach Dave Scott-Thomas for “past unprofessional conduct” (The Canadian Press, Feb 10, 2020). During the investigation, former and current athletes were asked “regarding their experiences on the team.” The university became privy to information about his conduct although it did not specify such conduct. 

Former middle-distance runner Megan Brown came forward, alleging Scott-Thomas groomed her for a sexual relationship when she was 17. The university said in January that new information revealed he should have been fired in 2006 after a complaint was received from a family member of a student-athlete. “The inaction and dismissal perpetrated a culture of disempowerment of sex abuse victims,” the Council said. Furthermore, the continued appraisal of Mr. Scott-Thomas, and denial of any wrongdoing on part of Athletics Canada, only reinforced his position of power over the victim[s].” 

Scott-Thomas led the Guelph Gryphons to 37 national titles in cross-country and Track & Field, and earned U Sports Coach of the Year in the two disciplines 35 times. He was also the Head coach of the Speed River Track and Field Club with numerous Olympians. The club announced in January it was ceasing operations.

The Case: Coach Ken Porter and Coach Andy McGinnis

Several former athletes have claimed sexual abuse as 15 and 16 years olds while training with Ken Porter in Edmonton, Alberta during the 1970s and early ‘80s. Brian Rhodes, a former track and field athlete, kept his story buried for almost five decades. The now 64-year-old is one of nine complainants, who allege that Porter harassed, abused and assaulted them, dating as far back as 1971. After Porter was suspended, Rhodes and another complainant decided to tweet about their inappropriate sexual relationships with the coach when they were underage boys. “I am coping quite well, considering the guilt I still harbor from keeping this hidden for nearly 50 years while Porter continued his predatory tactics on boys. 

“Ken Porter was my coach at the Edmonton Olympic Club in approximately 1977-78. He had an inappropriate sexual relationship with me at the time.” Rhodes and another man tweeted claims the sexual abuse by Porter in the 1970s with one suggesting Porter’s own abuse of athletes explained his defense of coach McInnis. Allegations against Porter range from non-consensual sex acts on teenage boys including fellatio to inappropriate touching. Porter is said to have carried a bottle of baby powder with him to practices as part of a ‘massage kit.’ 

At least six female complainants have come forward alleging sexual misconduct by McInnis, according to the report, which include inappropriate massage to an athlete’s pubic area, getting athletes to “parade bikini bottoms,” pinching and slapping as well as grinding his crotch up against athletes’ behinds during training. Female athletes shared information about McInnis’ sexual misconduct, and he was put on paid leave in September 2018, and banned from coaching or having contact with any athletes or members of the club, according to Athletics Canada’s notice of suspension. 

Athletics Canada issued a lifetime ban against Porter, the founder and volunteer president of the Ottawa Lions Track & Field Club and Andy McInnis, Lions head coach, after both were accused of multiple instances of sexual abuse. The report painted a stark picture of systemic failure of the institutions and individuals charged with protecting young athletes. The Lions Board of Directors failed to act with due moral and ethical duties and basic responsibilities under the Athletics Canada Code of Conduct and provincial laws to eradicate sexual harassment by both McInnis and Porter. “In interviews, one heard phrases such as, “Oh, it’s just Andy being Andy. If you think Andy is bad now, you should have seen him 20 years ago. Porter is to young men as Andy is to young women.”

Athletics Canada alleges that despite the ban, McInnis continued to coach Lions’ athletes during a California training camp in the last week of December 2018 and first week of January 2019. McInnis created track and field programs at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. He was inducted into the Athletics Canada Hall of Fame in 2017 but has since been expelled. In March, Porter was suspended by Athletics Canada amid accusations the Lions Club’s leadership was not taking misconduct allegations against McInnis seriously. 

Vancouver Sun

By Lori Culbert 
April 19, 2019

Chris Dallin was a teenage Track & Field star, setting two Canadian records in hurdles, winning gold at the 1981 Canada Summer Games, and caught the eye of National coaches dazzled by his speed and strength. On the outside, Dallin was a tall, attractive athlete with an intense determination to succeed and a growing collection of medals. On the inside, he said, he was wounded, struggling to understand why he had been ‘sexually assaulted’ by one of the most important people in his life. “It was the single most excruciatingly difficult event of my life,” Dallin said. He is one of at least five men who have provided statements to the Athletics Canada Commissioner’s Office, which was investigating sexual-abuse allegations against high profile track coach Ken Porter, who for 50 years turned hundreds of talented youth into the country’s highest-performing track stars. None of them told club officials, their parents, or police about the alleged abuse at the time because of the combination of shame, confusion and not wanting to ruin their chances of making the National track team or winning University scholarships. “I should have told somebody. But when you are young and you want to be a great athlete and you know that your coach is your ticket to greatness, you will do anything to stay with him,” said Dallin, 56, a branding consultant who said he has struggled since then. 


My research on abuse in USA Athletics (Track & Field) using the Google search engine showed: “Files not found” [!] whereas my online search via the Bing search engine disclosed at least two cases. 

The Case: Coach John Conrad Mainwaring

Coach Mainwaring is accused of abusing 41 men over 4 decades (more than 30 men allege misconduct dating back to the 1970s), according to an 18-month investigative report from ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines.’ Mainwaring is said to have used sexual contact as a “mental training tactic to help them to become better athletes.” Accusers state he “initiated sexual contact that focused on ‘erections to raise testosterone levels!” Allegations also go back to his days working as a counselor at Cam, a Boy’s Sport Camp in the mid-1970s. In 1987, Mainwaring was hired by the California Institute of Technology but the university fired him less than a year later after student complaints and an internal investigation. Mainwaring was arrested June 19, 2019 on one felony count of sexual battery. He faces up to four years in prison.

The Case: Coach John Rembao

Former Olympic High jumper Erin Aldrich planned to die with the secret she kept quiet for 2-plus decades: an affair with the college coach she began falling in love with as a teenager and with whom she had a sexual relationship as a young woman. She is one of three former student-athletes (besides Londa Bevins, Jessica Johnson), who filed a lawsuit against the NCCA that they were sexually abused by their Track coach, alleging the governing body and its Board of Governors didn’t do enough to protect them. The women say they were sexually abused and harassed by Rembao at the University of Texas and the University of Arizona. “He was my first sexual experience. We were going to World Juniors, when I had just turned 18, he put a blanket over my lap and he penetrated me with his fingers!” The filings come in the wake of revelations at the University of Michigan along with allegations and investigations of sexual abuse at other Universities including Michigan State, Ohio State and Minnesota.

Johnson and Bevins gave up their scholarships and transferred to the University of Arkansas. “After the spring semester 2000, I was depressed, anxious, and cutting myself, Johnson stated.” She said, her concerns about Rembao were expressed in a formal complaint to the University of Texas in the summer 2000, detailing alleged abuse in a 22-page document but “nobody did anything. None of them had my best interest at heart.”

USA Today

March 3 2020

By Larry Lage
July 26, 2000

Ex-track Athletes Detail Alleged Sex Abuse By College Coach

The Case: Coach Bev Kearney

The Aldrich (42), Bevins (39), Johnson (38) lawsuit is the second, following the serious misconduct by a woman’s Track coach. The school fired Kearney in 2013 after one of her former athletes alerted them of a consensual relationship between the pair a decade earlier. In dismissing Kearney, Texas officials said she had crossed the line between athlete and coach. Kearney sued Texas for race and gender discrimination, and won an undisclosed settlement.

The Case: Nike – The ‘Oregon Running Project’ and Coach Alberto Salazar

I came across the article in a German Newspaper ‘Die Süddeutsche Zeitung’, which delivers a devastating report of abuse at the Nike Headquarter and its ‘Oregon Running Project.’ US Media reports, on the other hand, are limited [!]…No wonder, since Nike is considered a Magna company player in the USA!

Runner Mary Cain says she endured constant pressure to lose weight and was publicly shamed during her time at the ‘Project.’ She won silver in the 1500-meter race at the 2014 USA Track & Field Championships after turning 18 just a month earlier. Cain says she paid a steep price during her time with the elite distance-running program from self-harm and suicidal thoughts to broken bones related to her declining health. She is speaking out less than a month after Nike shut down the ‘Oregon Project’ in wake of a four-year doping ban against coach Alberto Salazar, which he planned to appeal. A string of elite athletes – Cain’s former ‘Oregon Project’ teammates back her claims. “I joined Nike because I wanted to be the best female athlete ever. Instead, I was emotionally and physically abused by a system designed by Alberto and endorsed by Nike.” 

The ban comes after an independent panel of the American Arbitration Association decided to punish Salazar and his colleague NOP Dr. Jeffrey Brown, a former consultant with Nike, and so-called ‘hormone expert.’ Salazar referred runners to him for years with ‘peculiar identical’ problems: namely, thyroid issues treated readily with hormone injections. USADA informed Salazar of the allegations against him in June 2017 – some two years after athletes initially spoke out about what they considered questionable medical practices. USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart stated: “While acting in connection with the Nike ‘Oregon Project’, Mr. Salazar and Dr. Brown demonstrated that winning was more important than the health and wellbeing of the athletes they were sworn to protect.” Kara Goucher, an Olympic distance runner who trained with the same program under Salazar until 2011, said she experienced a similar environment as teammates lined up in front of one another were weighed in.

…When you’re training in a program like this, you’re constantly reminded how lucky you are to be there, how anyone would want to be there, and it’s this weird feeling of, Well, then, I can’t leave it. Who am I without it? When someone proposes something you don’t want to do, whether it’s weight loss or drugs, you wonder, Is this what it takes? Maybe it is, and I don’t want to have regrets. Your careers are so short. You are desperate. You want to capitalize on your career, but you’re not sure at what cost…

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany  
November 8, 2019/November 11, 2019

System Salazar: Fünf Knochenbrüche und Suizid-Gedanken 

[Five bone fractures and suicidal thoughts]

‘Oregon-Projekt’ von Nike 

Cain: “Ich wurde von einem System emotional und körperlich missbraucht, das Salazar entworfen und Nike unterstützt hat” [I was emotionally and physically abused in a system that Alberto developed and was supported by Nike].

Assistant Steve Magness states that he was “forced to pressure athletes to lose weight.” Cain said that after being cooked ‘meager meals’ by an assistant coach, she often had to eat more in the privacy of her condo, nervous he would hear her open the wrappers of the energy bars she had hidden there. A big part of this problem is that women and girls are being forced to meet athletic standards based on how men and boys develop. “If you try to make a girl fit a boy’s development timeline, her body is at risk of breaking down.” After months of dieting and frustration, Cain found herself choosing between training with the best team in the world, or potentially developing osteoporosis or even infertility. She lost her period for three years and broke five bones. She went from being a once-in-a-generation Olympic hopeful to having suicidal thoughts. “I was emotionally and physically abused by the system under Salazar. Thin was the goal, thinner the max.” 

When Magness produced alarming lab data, leadership would ignore it: “I know what I see – her ass is too big.” “Ich sei zu dick und hätte den größten Hintern an der Startlinie” [I am too fat and have the biggest ass at the starting line”]. Salazar’s experimental medical understanding is documented with colossal Carnitin-Infusions, using his experiments on trusted people. He had a close and long-standing relationship with Nike Chef Mark Parker, who left his position shortly after the closure of the ‘Oregon Project.’ However, Nike has not distanced itself officially from Salazar, who was cleared of his doping accusations under absurd interpretations. The relationship remains closely tied today – after all Nike had invested millions in his success. “Es steht die Zivilcourage von Top Sportlern gegen die Marketing Maschine eines Global Players” [“It takes personal courage of top athletes to go against the ‘marketing machine of a global player”].

Germany’s elite runner Konstanze Klosterhalfen was part of the Nike Project. She claims, however, that she trained solely with Co-coach Pete Julian. This is an unacceptable answer because he is also under investigation for his participation over certain methods. Experts say that it would be literally impossible to have two different training systems operating side by side over 20 years, one with a Faustian experimental madness and abuse of athletes – the other a ‘clean and pure’ system with equally successful results. Question: Why not train with the clean method in the first place? Whoever believes one could just overlook the issue by remaining quiet and continuing one’s career with the Nike ‘Oregon Project’ is running into a minefield that is spiked with continuous suspicion and accusations.


CBC News: BC Sports 
Dec 13, 2017

Swim Coach Suspended For Life

The Case: Matt Bell

High performance coach Matt Bell has been suspended for life by Swimming Canada after he was charged with sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and four counts of luring girls under 18. He had been sentenced previously to 7 months in jail for sexual exploitation in 2016. However, Swimming Canada is keeping all other information relating to the case confidential in order to protect the victims!

Swim Coach Faces Sex Abuse Charges

The Case: Coach Donald Matthew Carruthers

A swimming coach in Nova Scotia and Alberta is facing charges of having sexual relations with a minor. Donald Matthew Carruthers, 36, used to coach the Wolfville Tritons swim team as well as the Glencoe Gators Club in Calgary. He is charged with sexual assault and sexual touching a girl, who was 11 years old at the time. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between 2002 and 2004.


I had actually spoken up during the early 1970s when observing questionable behaviour of a coach on deck with female swimmers … the reaction? … “There she goes again! Get a grip on yourself Coach Schloder! You are just jealous that he is not paying attention to you!” 

Really? I had experienced unethical behaviour by one of my coaches when I was 16 years old in Germany during the late 1950s [!] with the promise of making a select team. I had told my mother but she stated, “Nobody will ever believe you because you are just perceived as an ‘infatuated teenager’ trying to get attention, in their opinion!” As I was an excellent track athlete as well I switched to that sport with everybody in the town Media wondering “what happened to Schloder!” 

I did not realize that the research would lead to such extensive findings of horrifying abuse, which had been festering over decades and kept ‘hidden’ from the public. The list just goes on and on and on and on… truly disgusting in terms of irresponsible national leadership! I selected the cited cases based on the fact that many of these coaches were part of the National and Olympic teams!

Get Ready! How About This Story Of Misplaced Faith?

Corsiglia, McMahon, & Allard, LLP
By Michele Kort

Molested by their coaches, unprotected by their sport’s leaders, 

Women athletes are breaking the silence about sexual abuse

She is special.

That’s what club swim coach Norm Havercroft in Saratoga, California, told the mother of 15-year-old competitive swimmer Jancy Thompson in 1997. And because she was so special, Havercroft needed to spend one-on-one time with her every morning, at 5 a.m. So the mother, who also had an infant son, got up before dawn to drive her daughter to the pool and wait in the parking lot, breastfeeding the baby.

But, according to the allegations of Thompson’s 2010 lawsuit, the coach wasn’t giving her training tips. Before the rest of the team arrived for practice, Thompson claimed, Havercroft allegedly was taking her into a private room and molesting her.

USA Swimming – Abuse Ignored Over Decades


In October 2010, Norm Havercroft was one of six coaches on a list with USA Swimming, who have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by an athlete. Of those six, only one has since been banned. In at least three of the remaining cases the swimmers involved in those cases or their lawyers have filed direct complaints with USA Swimming. “If we continue to not hold accountable our former coaches and officials that have left the sport without paying for their crimes, it gives the impression to the younger generation and parents that they too have to suffer at the hands of their abusive coach. As a result you have not built the essential trust in the system to allow the next generation to be able to speak up and change the abusive dynamic that continues to remain systemic in the sport.” 

Former swimmers said some victims have not come forward because of the way USA Swimming has previously treated victims and a belief within the sport that the organization will side with accused coaches. Abused swimmers, “just want to know if there’s a problem they can go to the organization that’s supposed to protect them and know that they’re not going to be thrown under the bus. They’re not going to be left out and hung out to dry. It’s harder to relive something when you’re made to feel like it’s your fault by squashing the victims.” 

Safe Sport Program Is Ineffective

Another indication of USA Swimming’s lack of commitment to the sexual abuse issue is its funding of the ‘Safe Sport program.’ The organization spent $345,470 on the program in 2016, substantially less than a third of the $1 million USA Swimming spent on its Golden Goggles Award Gala. Safe Sport was implemented in September 2010 in the wake of criticism of USA Swimming’s handling of sexual abuse cases. “What sends a bigger signal is that they hired somebody, who had no background in any aspect of Safe Sport,” Hogshead-Makar said of Susan Woessner. “The fact is they continuously hire people that have no prior experience. She worked in USA Swimming’s business operations and National team division. Neither of those positions dealt with Safe Sport. “Susan Woessner doesn’t have the background for the job,” said Hogshead-Makar. She’s not a lawyer. She’s never worked w ional background to do these types of cases. Susan was somebody hired from within USA Swimming who doesn’t have the expertise for the job.” 

The New York Times

 By Karen Crouse 
April 20, 2010

USA Swimming Outlines Plan to Stop Misconduct

USA Swimming’s beleaguered Board of Directors, contending with the fallout from two high-profile cases that sent veteran coaches to prison for sexual misconduct, convened an emergency teleconference. They devised a seven-point plan to address the issue of coaches taking advantage of their young athletes. The next morning, a 21-year-old former competitive swimmer filed a civil suit in Missouri that named USA Swimming as a defendant, claiming she had been sexually abused by a member coach, who later moved to another team in a different state. Since the success of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, swimming’s National governing body has faced at least three lawsuits involving male coaches’ behaviour toward female swimmers. 

In January, Andrew King, 62, whose coaching career had spanned four decades and many teams, was sentenced to 40 years after pleading no contest to charges of molesting a 14-year-old girl who swam for him in San Jose, Calif., and two women he coached while employed by other teams in the 1980s and 1990s. The San Jose Mercury News, citing court documents, said King’s misconduct included impregnating a teenage swimmer. 

In 2008, another coach, Brian Hindson of Kokomo, Ind., was sentenced to up to 35 years in federal prison for secretly videotaping young female swimmers while they showered. King and Hindson were the subjects of an ABC News investigation on “20/20,” which also reported that USA Swimming coaches had molested, groped and abused dozens of swimmers through the years. 

Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming said “99.9 percent of our coaches are dedicated, wholesome, intelligent, caring individuals who are committed to working with kids in a positive, constructive way.” Over the past 10 years, he said, the organization has expelled 36 of its 36,402 affiliated coaches for sexual misconduct. The so-called blacklist of barred individuals is not public but local swimming officials in charge of registering new coaches have access. The organization’s Board said it intended to determine whether it could enhance the background-screening program put in place in 2006, and to review its Code of Conduct. The 32-member Board also said it planned to improve communications to member clubs regarding pre-employment screening and their responsibilities in hiring coaches and other employees and to better educate athletes, parents, coaches, and club leaders on the issue. 

Deena Deardurff Schmidt, a 1972 Olympic gold medalist, suggested it was not that simple. “Some of the predatory coaches have been some of the most successful coaches in the U.S.” She said she was molested by a coach as a young swimmer but never reported it. “I don’t think their peers were wanting to take a stand against them. Some people are too afraid to speak up. They don’t want their lives upset.” 

In 2000, a New Mexico teenager, Jessica Maples, pressed charges against her coach, who later pleaded guilty to aggravated battery. She also sued USA Swimming for negligence, and they reached a confidential settlement. Maples said the reason she pursued the case was to help prevent others from being abused. “It’s almost like there is an underground network that protects these predatory coaches. I don’t understand, what exactly is U.S. Swimming gaining by allowing these coaches to stay out there? If they really committed themselves to creating a safe environment for their swimmers, they could be heroes.” 

Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming, said 36 coaches had been expelled. Robert Shoop, a professor and director of the Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership at Kansas State University, said there were established safeguards for all children in athletic settings. They include keeping practices open to parents and never allowing a coach to be alone with a young athlete. “The responsible agency has an affirmative duty to take every complaint seriously and take prompt and appropriate action. This includes having someone trained in appropriate investigation procedures. The investigator should interview the person bringing the complaint, the accused coach, other athletes, parents, other coaches and anyone else who might have relevant information.” 

Shoop criticized USA Swimming’s process as being so unwieldy it discourages people from coming forward. “Who’s going to make this up, swimmer, Katie Kelly, said? Their approach, No. 1, should be that all complaints are valid.” USA Swimming’s Code of Conduct prohibits sexual contact or advances directed toward an athlete by a coach, official, trainer or anyone in a position of authority over that athlete. “Age and consent in such relationships are irrelevant, Shoop said. If you are the supervisor, you don’t have sex with them,” he said. “That has to be clearly spelled out.” At USA Swimming, Pat Hogan, the club development division director, educates coaches and clubs about child-protection safeguards. Yet in the 1980s, Hogan became romantically involved with Julie Ginden, one of his teenage swimmers in Atlanta. They married when she was 20, and have since divorced.

“I conducted myself with complete honor and integrity in my relationship with my former wife,” Hogan said. “Our relationship, which developed after she was 18, and I was a young man in my 20s, always had the full knowledge and blessing of her parents” Wielgus added: “There was nothing wrong with that relationship. I’m O.K. with it.” 

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Donna de Varona called for bolstering the Code of Conduct and strictly enforcing it. She drew a parallel with performance-enhancing drugs, which became less of a menace to the Olympic movement only after the independent World Anti-Doping Agency was created in 1999. “The same focus has to be applied to this,” de Varona said in a telephone interview. “I think this is a wake-up call to get unified codes in all sports.” 

Note: A version of this article appears in print on April 21, 2010, Section B, Page 13 of the New York edition with the headline: USA Swimming Outlines a Plan To Help Prevent Misconduct. 

The Case: Coach Andrew King

In January, Andrew King’s, 62, coaching career spanned four decades and many teams. He was arrested in April 2009 in Northern California after a 14-year-old San Jose swimmer told police King had molested her from May 2008 to March 2009, and two other women he coached while employed by other teams in the 1980s and 1990s. The San Jose Mercury News, citing court documents, said King’s misconduct included impregnating a teenage swimmer. A woman, who once trained under King and filed a complaint against him years later criticized USA Swimming’s process as being so unwieldy; it discourages people from coming forward. “Who’s going to make this up?” the swimmer, Katie Kelly, said in a telephone interview. “Their approach, No. 1, should be that all complaints are valid.”  “If you are the supervisor, you don’t have sex with them,” he said. “That has to be clearly spelled out” according to Robert Shoup, professor, and director of the Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership at Kansas State University. 

Curl and King are among the 138 coaches and officials USA Swimming has banned for life for violating sexual abuse and misconduct rules. Among the new additions to the list are Tim O’Brien and former Harvard coach Joseph Bernal. O’Brien, a coach with Nitro Swimming in Austin, Texas, was banned after being arrested in December 2016 for indecency with a child. The arrest came a year after USA Swimming named O’Brien the organization’s national development coach of the year. Bernal, who coached Berkoff and four other Olympians and was a member of the 1984 and 1988 U.S. Olympic coaching staff was banned in February 2016 for sexual misconduct. 

Reports But No Action

A culture that allowed high profile coaches like Rick Curl and Andy King to continue to coach young swimmers for years after the sexual abuse of underage athletes was first brought to the attention of USA Swimming officials and top coaches. In the mid to late 80s, University of Texas swimmer Kelley Davies told three Longhorn coaches that she had been sexually abused between 1983 and 1986 by Rick Curl, her Maryland club coach. The abuse, Davies said, began when she was 12 and Curl was 34. The Texas coaches were Longhorn men’s coach Eddie Reese, Richard Quick, then the Texas women’s coach, and Mark Schubert, who replaced Quick as the Longhorn women’s coach. All three men would coach Team USA at multiple Olympic games. Schubert said Davies asked him in 1987 not to go to authorities on the abuse because a confidentiality clause that was part of a financial settlement she and her family had reached with Curl. Rumors of the abuse, however, were widespread within the sport. Yet, Curl’s career continued to thrive. He was named to the U.S. national team staff. Swimmers coached by Curl won medals for four countries at the 2000 Olympic games. 

 “Denying knowledge of Rick Curl, Mitch Ivey and others “banging their swimmers is a flat out lie,” two-time Olympic gold medalist David Berkoff is speaking out in his own defense in the July 26, 2010 email to another USA Swimming Board member. “They knew about it because we (coaches and athletes) were all talking about it in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was told by several of Mitch Ivey’s swimmers that he was sleeping with a female swimmer in 1988,” Berkoff said. Coach Ivey, a former University of Florida coach, was banned in 2013, 20 years after his allegations of sexual misconduct was extensively reported by the media. I was told Rick Curl was molesting Kelley Davies for years starting when she was 12 by some of the (University of) Texas guys. “That was the entire reason I formed the abuse subcommittee. I was sick and tired of this crap. No one was standing up. No one was willing to take on these perverts.” 

Former U.S. National team director Mark Schubert said in a sworn 2013 deposition and again in an interview with the Orange County Register that he first informed Wielgus of Curl’s abuse of Davies in 2007. More than three years after Schubert said he first raised the Curl-Davies issue with him, Wielgus in a May 2010 deposition was asked if he had ever received “any information about (Curl) having inappropriate sexual contact with one of his swimmers? I have never received any information about that, Wielgus said, and nothing could be done without a victim coming forward.” Yet, even when Davies filed a claim against Curl with USA Swimming in the spring of 2011, the organization refused to take action. Davies’ 2011 complaint with USA Swimming included a copy of the settlement agreement signed by Curl, she said. A year later, Curl was spotted at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials on the competition pool deck and in the arena’s VIP section wearing an official credential issued by USA Swimming. USA Swimming banned Curl for life in September 2012 after an emergency hearing was called and after a Washington Post story detailing Curl’s sexual abuse of Davies. A Maryland court in May 2013 sentenced Curl to seven years in prison for molesting Davies. 

By the time King began sexually molesting a 14-year-old female swimmer in San Jose in 2008, Wielgus had already been informed twice of prior sexual abuse by King, who began coaching at a club in Hayward, and soon had a history of dating teenage swimmers he was coaching. After divorcing his first wife with whom he began a sexual relationship when she was a minor, King proposed to another swimmer on her 16th birthday. Swimming coach Andrew King was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading no contest to 20 counts of felony child molestation (Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News). 

A former swimmer told executives at Pacific Swimming, USA Swimming’s Northern California branch, in January 2003 that King had forced her and other underage swimmers to perform sex acts on the pool deck in front of other teammates when he was coaching in Hayward in the 1990s. The reports of King’s ‘sex games’ were forwarded to Wielgus along with assertions from two Pacific officials that the former swimmer was a “very reliable individual” and very upstanding.” A Pacific official wrote to Wielgus for advice on how to handle the matter. Wielgus told the Pacific official to do nothing, and that “this matter should be kept confidential by both you and us.” A few months later, parents in Oak Harbor, Washington complained directly to Wielgus that King had sexually abused their daughter while coaching in the Puget Sound area in the late 1990s. While USA Swimming promised it would investigate the matter, according to court documents, the probe never took place. 

King was arrested in April 2009 in Northern California after a 14-year-old San Jose swimmer told police King had molested her from May 2008 to March 2009. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading no contest to 20 counts of felony child molestation in September 2009. Some of his victims were as young as 10 years old. 

Ban Takes Years Even After Convictions

Even if coaches are convicted of violent sex crimes it can take years for USA Swimming to issue lifetime bans. Erick Lans, a Massachusetts coach, was arrested on rape and child sex abuse charges in January 1999 at a Hyatt Hotel in New Brunswick, N.J. while attending a swim coaches’ conference. He wasn’t banned until March 2013, 12 years after he was convicted of intent to commit rape, indecent assault on a child under 14, and rape and abuse of a child. Lans had raped a 12-year-old girl, and forced a 10-year-girl to perform oral sex on him at the pool facility he was coaching at. He told her “he was going to give her something that would enhance her swimming capabilities. He referred to it as a “Gatorade

Popsicle,” an assistant district attorney later told the Boston Herald. 

Even after they have been banned for life some coaches continue to coach at USA Swimming sanctioned meets. A coach convicted of molesting a 12-year girl in recent years has coached a Mexican team at USA Swimming meets in Southern California. “I did not think it was our role at USA Swimming to be following someone around and track where they’re working and – someone we’ve banned, that’s just not something we do.” 

USA Swimming also keeps a list of individuals suspended for conduct violations. But once a person’s suspension is over, there is no mention of it on USA Swimming’s Website even if it is for sexual misconduct. Long-time Orange County swim coach Bill Jewell at two OC clubs, Former Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team (FAST) and Golden West Swim Club allegedly engaged in repeated inappropriate behavior with young underage swimmers and was suspended for three years, according to the Orange County Register. Jewell referred to a group of young FAST female swimmers as the “the itty-bitty-titty club,” according to court documents. FAST swimmers said he described one teenage female swimmer’s breasts as a “nice rack,” gave a 14-year-old female swimmer the nickname “Anthills” because of her breast size, and made comments to a 13-year-old girl about her virginity, according to court documents. There is currently no record of Jewell’s suspension on the Website.

Since at least October 2010, USA Swimming officials kept a “flagged list” of at least 32 “Persons associated with USA Swimming arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime involving sexual misconduct but not banned by USAS.” The list is not available to the public. USA Swimming has only banned six of those 32 charged. 

Joe Weber was flagged by USA Swimming in 1995, the same year he was arrested for having oral sex with a 14-year-old swimmer, and later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. At the time, he was coaching at Team Foxcatcher, the Pennsylvania athletic club once bankrolled by John du Pont, the eccentric philanthropist portrayed in the film ‘Foxcatcher.’ Du Pont murdered Olympian David Schultz, Foxcatcher’s wrestling coach in January 1996. USA Swimming was aware in October 2010 that Weber was working with a New Jersey YMCA swim team but took no action. He worked as a consultant with the team for six years until he was fired in July 2012 after team officials became aware of his conviction. USA Swimming finally banned Weber on Feb. 25, 2013, nearly 15 years after his case first came to the organization’s attention. 

Among those on the ‘flagged list’ is Willard Colebank, USA Swimming’s former Director of Educational Services. He was convicted on child pornography charges in 2008 while teaching at a Colorado Springs Middle school. USA Swimming officials said they have not pursued some of the cases on the ‘flagged list’ because victims have not come forward or have been reluctant to cooperate with USA Swimming. FBI Director, Comey was informed that “USA Swimming’s historical failures to address child abuse, the existence of ‘non-compliant victim’ files that leave children exposed to future harm, and the fact that Safe Sport Program appears not to work for all victims raise significant concerns around USA Swimming’s ability to police its ranks sufficiently.” USA Swimming was the last national governing body sanctioned by the USOC to pass a rule prohibiting any romantic or sexual relationships between coaches and athletes.

Resistance to Reform

Among those leading the resistance to reform has been the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA), which has had a major role in influencing USA Swimming policies regarding sexual abuse, according to Hogshead-Makar, other former swimmers, and longtime swimming insiders. Just how ingrained the resistance within USA Swimming’s membership was evident in the fight to pass rules prohibiting any romantic or sexual relationships between coaches and athletes as part of the organization’s Code of Conduct. EX VP stated that the governing body has dragged its feet for years and still isn’t doing enough to prevent coaches from having improper contact with athletes. A proposal was voted down by USA Swimming members in 2012, recalling the 2013 convention, “there was a lot of gnashing of teeth, grimacing, ‘we’re not going to do that.” ASCA Executive Director John Leonard has often opposed reform efforts in regards to sexual abuse, sometimes while he was a member of the USA Swimming Task Force and Committees set up to develop new guidelines and policies on sexual misconduct. “I hate the whole topic,” Leonard complained in an email to USA Swimming officials. AHA! ‘Ole boys network’ covered up such behavior when I observed coach Mitch Ivy in 1972, one of their favorite boys” (Schloder).

Media Reports by Years – 2011-2020

HuffPost: SPORTS

Updated May 25, 2011

U.S. Swimming Sex Scandal: Abuse, Molestation, Secret Tapings & More

USA swim coaches have molested, groped, and secretly taped numerous teenage swimmers over the past decades, according to ABC News. The network counts “36 coaches banned for life for sexual misconduct over the last 10 years” by the US governing body for swimming. The report focuses on several offenders in particular. Sixty-two-year-old Andrew King was found to have abused at least a dozen teenage girls over several decades and in numerous States while Brian Hindson of Indiana was sentenced to a 33-year federal prison term after he was found to have secretly taped multiple girls in a “special shower room.”

By Christian Red
March 3, 2012

Former Olympic Swimmer Katherine Starr Starts Safe4Athletes 

To Help Fellow Abuse Victims

Katherine Starr, an Olympic swimmer for Great Britain and herself a survivor of sexual abuse, agreed. “Having a transparent process of knowing what decisions have been made, and what coaches are being investigated is essential knowledge that parents are missing to be able to make an informed decision about the well-being of your child”, Starr said. Her coach Hickson, who was the British swimming coach at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 1995, after being convicted of 15 of 17 charges that stemmed from rape to indecent assault.

Mercury News

Bay Area News Group
By Elliott Almond
November 26, 2013

The Case: Coach Mitch Ivy – Famed Swim Coach Banned For Sexual Misconduct

Two-time Olympic medalist Mitch Ivey of San Jose received a lifetime coaching ban two decades after a history of sexual misconduct with Bay Area female swimmers first became public. Ivey, 64 was once a teammate of Mark Spitz at the famed Santa Clara Swim Club. Ivey, who swam at Stanford and Long Beach State, won a silver medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and bronze in 1972 in Munich in the 200-meter backstroke. He replaced the famed George Haines as coach of the Santa Clara Swim Club in 1974. By 1988, he was a member of the U.S. Olympic team coaching staff. 

The allegations against Ivey date to the early 1980s when he coached at Concord Pleasant Hill Swim Club. Ivey, 33 at the time, had a relationship with Suzette Moran, 16-year-old swimmer from Pleasanton-Foothill High. Her willingness to recount the events of 30 years ago led to the ban. USA Swimming said in June it did not uncover enough evidence to continue a 2011 investigation of Ivey. The sequence of events dismays the woman who discussed her relationship with Ivey two decades ago on ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines.’ After the program aired in 1993, Ivey was let go at the University of Florida, where he was South-Eastern Conference coach of the year all three of his seasons in Gainesville. Ivey later coached at two private Florida schools, the last from 2003-2005. Although Moran says she had a consensual sexual relationship with her coach, “it was his job as an adult to walk away. Even if I didn’t feel like a victim, it is statutory rape. End of story.” 

San Jose lawyer Robert Allard, who represented Moran, said, “There is no room in society for coaches who sexually abuse or molest underage athletes. Mitch Ivey was protected for nearly 30 years by a culture within USA Swimming that continues to this day.” 

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a three-time Olympic champion at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, welcomed USA Swimming’s ban on Ivey. Hogshead, senior Director of Advocacy at the Women’s Sports Foundation, had testified in USA Swimming’s initial investigation into Ivey two years ago. 

Ivey, who according to public records lives in Florida, is the latest coach to be punished in connection with sexual misconduct of female swimmers. The University of Florida Athletic Association released him in October 1993 following an episode of the ESPN television show ‘Outside the Lines’ recounting Ivey’s history of romantic involvement with several of his previous swimmers before he became a coach at the University of Florida, where allegations of sexual harassment were made against him. Ivey had been previously married three times, including his second wife, an 18-year-old swimmer at the time he married her. He later coached the Trinity Prep Saints swimming and diving team of Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park, Florida, and its affiliated club team, Trinity Prep Aquatics, during the late 1990s. From 2003 to 2006, Ivey coached swimming at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, Florida. Swimmer Suzette Moran stated that coach Mitch Ivey first made sexual advances toward her when coaching at Concord Pleasant Hill Swim Club at the time. He allegedly went into her hotel room and had unwanted sex with her during the 1983 U.S. Championships in Indianapolis. On December 24, 2013, USA Swimming officially banned Ivey for life based on evidence that he had improper sexual relations with one or more swimmers while he was their coach. 


By Braden Keith
December 23, 2013

Olympic Medalist Mitch Ivey’s Lifetime Ban Becomes Official

The month-long appeal period for the lifetime ban on former swim coach Mitch Ivey has expired with no result, meaning that the accused sexual abuser has been added to USA Swimming’s public list of individuals permanently suspended or ineligible late Monday afternoon.

Ivey, a 1968 and 1972 Olympic medalist, is also a former coach at the University of Florida, among other places. Ivey’s ban comes several years after his original accuser, swimmer Suzette Moran, made the public announcement that she had been abused by her coach as a child; though she did not refer to Ivey specifically, context clues led most to believe that he was the coach she was referring to. Ivey is the 20th coach to be banned in 2013, the busiest year on record for USA Swimming.

“What a sad story for all those who he harmed. He had it all … George’s chosen successor at one of the greatest swim programs … Olympian … Chose to do what felt good for him regardless of the consequences to others. Used his position of authority to groom and seduce attractive young women. Many in the sport knew what he was up to but did nothing.” 


Thank God for this! What is so unbelievable is that Mitch was one of the biggest offenders in this sport. Most of the other coaches on the deck knew exactly what he was doing to us. No one ever stepped in to stop it and sadly, several other coaches followed his pattern of grooming and abuse. He should have been one of the FIRST coaches banned. For all the nay-sayers out there, you have no idea! When you are at this level of a sport, you give all you have to be the best and while you may be well travelled and mature when it comes to the sport, you are not when it comes to being street smart!

Deborah Briggs 

He did the same to me. He got me pregnant along with a young girl he was coaching… he gave me Chlamydia… so arrogant…a hard time for the young girl!


Mitch is a MONSTER! He ruined so many with his blatant abuse and anyone who came forward, I am sure you know what became of the allegations.  


By Ceci Christi
June 12, 2013

Ceci Christy Spoke Today With The Alleged Victim of Mitch Ivey 

And Got Her Perspective on Their Relationship

On Monday, swimmer Suzette Moran issued a public statement detailing the consensual sexual relationship she had with coach Mitch Ivey beginning when she was 16 and he was 33.  This story is not new to the swimming community. In 1993, on ‘Outside the Lines’, ESPN detailed Mr. Ivey’s habitual sexual abuse of his underage club level swimmers. ESPN interviewed Ms. Moran who described her relationship with Mr. Ivey. In 1983, she was 16 and he was 33 when the sexual relationship began. They were engaged when she was 17 but she ended the engagement during her freshman year at UCLA. We spoke with Ms. Moran and she candidly filled in those details. In 1983, when she was 16 she swam at the San Ramon Valley Swim Club under Andy King. Mitch Ivey was not Ms. Moran’s coach at the time the relationship began. Ms. Moran wants us to understand that she pursued Mr. Ivey. She initiated the relationship. He did not coerce her or ask her not to tell anyone. In fact, they took no precautions. “Everyone knew, but looked the other way.” Ironically, Andy King “stood up to her and said, ‘you don’t know what you are doing, Suzette.” That single admonishment was the extent of anyone’s efforts to end or prevent the affair.

Ms. Moran is adamant that she did know what she was doing. Seven months into the affair, she moved to Concord Pleasant Hill Swim Club where Mr. Ivey coached and continued their relationship. From the beginning, their affair was “fully consensual, and she never felt forced to do anything.” In fact, her parents were aware of the relationship and allowed it to continue with parameters. She admits that if her parents had not allowed her to continue her involvement with him, she probably would have run away and married him. But her mother wanted to keep her daughter close and the lines of communication open with the daughter she loved. 

Moran holds herself completely accountable for her actions and does not see herself as a victim. She says she never felt she should report their sexual relationship. As she was discussing the affair, she admits she was a stubborn, mature 16-year-old, but now realizes that the other girls who had affairs with Mr. Ivey may not have been as stubborn or mature. Those affairs may not have been consensual. And, regardless of her maturity level and consent, she recognizes that a 33-year-old coach having sex with a 16-year-old swimmer is wrong and constitutes abuse. For these reasons, Moran decided to speak publicly about her past. Even though a substantial amount of evidence shows that many in the swimming world, including USA Swimming, have known her story for some time. According to ESPN reporting and numerous early 1990 newspaper articles, Mr. Ivey’s pattern of having sexual relationships with his underage swimmers was common knowledge.  

While researching the Ivey piece in 1993, Bob Ley, the host of ‘Outside the Lines’, stated, “[i]t was all too easy to find cases alleging sexual abuse between minors and coaches and sexual misconduct.” While the ESPN researchers easily located Mr. Ivey’s victims in 1993, USA Swimming has stated that their investigation of Mr. Ivey in 2011 concluded that “there was not enough evidence to move forward with” a hearing, but “the case remains open.” Ms. Moran now asks “Congress to step in and investigate USA Swimming.” Kelley Currin made this same request after Rick Curl’s sentencing hearing in May this year. They contend that USA Swimming allowed Mr. Ivey and Mr. Curl to continue coaching while knowing these men had sexual relationships with them when they were minors. USA Swimming is now encouraging “any individuals with first-hand information about any inappropriate conduct to come forward and share their story directly with USA Swimming’s Director of Safe Sport” if an “inappropriate relationship with an athlete took place when Mr. Ivey was a coach member” of USA Swimming. Given the investigative resources of the Safe Sport office, maybe it is time for that office to contact the individual it now conclusively knows has this first-hand information.


By Ceci Christi 
May 20, 2013

Bill Jewell Unsuccessful In Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Against FAST

In July 2011, Bill Jewell filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team, Inc. (“FAST”) and its Board of Directors seeking damages in excess of $500,000 in the Superior Court of Orange County, California. Seventy-year-old Jewell claimed that FAST terminated his Head coach and chief operating officer contracts because of his advancing age. FAST claimed that Jewell violated the Code of Conduct which prohibits “any sexual conduct, advance or other inappropriate sexually-oriented behaviour or action directed towards an athlete by a coach member” FAST asserts in its claims that it began hearing allegations that Mr. Jewell “made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to and around athletes. Including teenage female athletes, and in front of FAST employees in May 2011.”

After Jewell was terminated, FAST claims that it obtained testimony from Mr. Jewell and former FAST swimmers which “show Jewell failed to consider the vulnerabilities of his teenage athletes and made repeated comments that were sexual or inappropriate in nature. This includes statements which were sexually explicit and/or which referenced sex, sexual activities, and female body parts, topics which are clearly inappropriate for conversations with teenage athletes.” 

Associated Press

Nov 17, 2017

Swimming Coach Fired Amid Emotional Abuse Claims

The Case: New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers University

Rutgers University fired its women’s swimming and diving coach amid mental and verbal abuse allegations. Petra Martin’s dismissal came Thursday after Athletic Director Patrick Hobbs met with the team on Wednesday. Hobbs told “We both agreed that it was in the best interests of the program.” Martin has been accused of telling swimmers to lose weight, verbally berating them, and ignoring mental health concerns.

Orange County Register, California

By Scott Reid
February 16, 2018

Post News

February 17, 2018

100s of USA Swimmers Sexually Abused For Decades 

And People in Charge Knew And Ignored it

For decades the sexual abuse of young athletes by their coaches lingered just beneath the surface in American swimming’s otherwise golden waters. In 2005, USA Swimming President Ron Van Pool decided it was time to bring the issue to the surface. Giving his Annual State of Swimming Address, he pushed for a more aggressive approach within the sport to taking on sexual abuse. “USA Swimming is frightfully behind the curve in this process and there are those who would have us continue to lag,” he said. The speech, however, didn’t make much of an impression with Chuck Wielgus, then in his eighth year as USA Swimming’s Executive Director. “There was nothing that struck me,” Wielgus said later in deposition. 

The Southern California News Group (SCNG) Investigation: 

  • Top USA Swimming Executives, Board members, top officials, and coaches acknowledge in the documents that they were aware of sexually predatory coaches for years, in some cases even decades but did not take action. In at least 11 cases top USA Swimming officials declined to pursue sexual abuse cases against high profile coaches even when presented with direct complaints. The decision not to pursue the complaints was made by Susan Woessner, USA Swimming’s Director of Safe Sport. 
  • For example, three U.S. Olympic Team head coaches, and USA Swimming Vice President were told in the 1980s that a world-renowned coach had sexually abused a female swimmer, beginning when she was 12. But not only did USA Swimming not pursue the case, it allowed him to continue to have access to USA Swimming facilities, U.S. Olympic and National team events, and the Olympic Training Center. USA Swimming even awarded the club owned and operated by him more than $40,000 in grants. The coach was only banned after pleading guilty to sexual assault more than a quarter-century after the abuse was first brought to the attention. 
  • During more than 20 years with Wielgus in charge of USA Swimming at least 252 swim coaches and officials have been arrested, charged by prosecutors, or disciplined by USAS for sexual abuse or misconduct against individuals under 18. Those coaches and officials have a total of at least 590 alleged victims, some of them abused while attending preschool swim classes. 
  • USA Swimming Board members and coaches acknowledged they were aware of statutory rape cases that occurred during U.S. National team trips to major International competitions. 
  • Since at least 2010 USA Swimming kept a list of more than 30 coaches and officials ‘flagged’ after being arrested or accused by law enforcement of sex crimes including rape and child pornography but were not disciplined by USA Swimming. Some coaches and officials on that list have not been banned even after they were convicted of felonies, banning only six of 32 coaches on that list in 2010, which is not available to the public. When banned for life for sexual misconduct it can be years before names are listed on the permanently banned list on USA Swimming’s Website. 
  • USA Swimming has also paid $77,627 to law firms to lobby against legislation in California that would have made it easier for sexual abuse victims to sue their abusers and the organizations they worked for or represented in civil cases. 

Documents covering nearly a quarter-century provide a portrait of how top USA Swimming officials and coaches have continued undermining reforms long accepted by other sports and refused to investigate allegations of abuse even when presented with evidence from multiple sources. Like the Larry Nassar case, former USA Gymnastics National Team doctor, an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University, and convicted American serial child molester (Refer to April) USA Swimming ignored the abuse. However, the handling of sexual abuse cases caught the attention of Congress, and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce informed USA Swimming on Jan. 26, 2018 that it was “investigating matters related to sexual abuse within organized sports, including USA Swimming.” 

“In my position as head of an organization that advocates for girls and women in sport, I hear the pain too many swimmers have suffered. There are still too many abusive coaches, who are either still coaching and still in the Hall of Fame. Almost as bad, ethical coaches have been blackballed for advocating for athletes for doing the right thing. They’re offended by a culture of coaches that regularly go to strip clubs in the evenings after a day of competition, offended by the sexualisation of young girls but powerless to stop it. Critics like Nancy Hogshead-Makar, 1984 Olympian said, …“The continued high rate of incidents of sexual abuse is largely the result of USA Swimming’s failure to implement policies that would create effective deterrents.” USA Swimming Board members and coaches acknowledged they were aware of statutory rape cases that occurred during U.S. National Team trips to major International competitions. Still, top USA Swimming officials haven’t appeared to share the sense of urgency or concerns, documents and interviews show. 

Hogshead-Makar in recent years asked Susan Woessner why USA Swimming wasn’t investigating published sexual misconduct allegations against a former U.S. Olympic team coach who was also a long-time USA Swimming Board member and one-time member of a sexual abuse Task Force set up by the organization. Woessner said, “Nancy what does it matter? He’s no longer coaching.”

Associated Press

Colorado Politics
March 5, 2018 usa/article_b45364c2-07f0-5494-9db8-bbe81d40d71b.html

Investigation Reveals Decades of Sex Abuse Within Ranks of USA Swimming

USA Swimming repeatedly missed opportunities to overhaul a culture within American swimming where the sexual abuse of underage swimmers by their coaches and others in positions of power within the sport was commonplace and even accepted by top officials and coaches, according to documents and interviews with sexual abuse survivors, former Olympians, USA Swimming officials, sb nafe sport advocates and some of USA Swimming’s leading financial benefactors. 

For decades the sexual abuse of young athletes by their coaches lingered just beneath the surface in American swimming. In October 2010, Norm Havercroft was one of six coaches on a list of “Persons involved with USA Swimming who have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by an athlete,” kept by USA Swimming administrators. Of those six, only one has since been banned. In at least three of the remaining cases the swimmers involved in those cases or their lawyers have filed direct complaints with USA Swimming.

A Swimmer’s Nightmare

Bay Area swimmer Jancy Thompson was one of those kids who chased the Olympic dream only to find a nightmare waiting at the end of the line. “When you’re growing up as a swimmer and a child you’re asked to give up a lot of things, she said. You give up your entire afternoons for training, running, weight training. You’re giving up big chunks of time all the time. You give up the normal life of a kid.” Thompson didn’t mind the sacrifice. She had talent, a tireless work ethic and complete faith in her coach Norm Havercroft and his promise he would lead her to Olympic glory. “Norm was always telling my Mom and I ‘I will give you the recipe to make it to the Olympics, Thompson recalled. All you have to do is follow it.” The governing body of U.S. competitive swimming faced another lawsuit in 2010 that it did not protect a young swimmer from being sexually abused by her coach. It accuses USA Swimming of negligence and that it was responsible for the coach’s behavior. 

The suit claims Havercroft sexually abused Thompson over a five-year period, beginning when she was about 15 years old. She never imagined his plan would include being sexually abused. By December 1997, months of being abused were taking a toll on her. She had a nightmare that Havercroft placed a dog collar around her neck and pulled her down the pool in an effort to make her swim faster. After he found out about the dream, he bought a dog collar and leash for Christmas, Thompson said. One day at practice he pressured Thompson into wearing the dog collar and then had her swim while he held the attached leash, walking down the pool deck alongside her laughing. Thompson said she was humiliated. She was only 15. 

Earlier that year Havercroft began sending pornography to Thompson, including photos and videos of himself nude or masturbating, and making sexually explicit phone calls to her, according to court documents and an interview with Thompson. That Spring he started molesting her and made her perform sex acts at swim meets, according to court documents. He purchased a webcam in 1998 so he could have ‘cybersex’ sessions with him three or four times. His alleged abuse of Thompson lasted for five years while he coached her at two Bay Area swim clubs. 

In 1996, a year before the abuse of Thompson began, a San Jose police sergeant notified USA Swimming with allegations that Havercroft had sexually molested another underage female swimmer he was coaching at the West Valley Swim Club between 1994 and 1996, according to a sworn deposition obtained by the Register. Two Bay Area swim parents said they also reported sexually inappropriate conduct by Havercroft to USA Swimming and Pacific Swimming in 1996.

Warnings Ignored

USA Swimming documents and court records show that the Havercroft situation wasn’t an isolated case. “I would hate to see our organization ever in the predicament of protecting child molesters!” Richard Shoulberg, Hall of Fame Coach of Olympic medalists and world record holders, wrote in an August 2003 email to members of a USA Swimming task force on sexual misconduct that he was heading but pleads like his have continued to go unheeded. In four of the last six years at least 20 swim coaches have been arrested, charged or convicted for sex crimes ranging from rape, sexually assaulting a 3-year-old and 8-year-old, statutory rape, child pornography to secretly videotaping underage swimmers in locker-rooms, according to Southern California News Group (SCNG). 

In addition to prioritizing image, branding and sponsorships, USA Swimming’s failure to create culture change can be traced to its unwillingness to take on a powerful (and almost exclusively male) network of coaches, the refusal of most of those officials to acknowledge the problem, poor hiring and legal strategy designed to protect USA Swimming and not young athletes. A former swimmer said: “they’re looking at the small picture, not the big picture,” according to Hogshead-Makar, a graduate of the Georgetown Law Center. “The small picture is they’re only concerned about liability for the US Swimming without looking out for the victim. The victim is not their client. The actions that are designed to protect the institution from legal liability instead of protecting the organization from being infested with molesting coaches.” 

Dale Neuberger has been a member of USA Swimming’s Board of Directors since 1990, and was the Federation President from 1998 to 2002. In a January 2011 deposition, Neuberger was asked repeatedly if he was aware of sexual misconduct complaints during his association with USA Swimming. Neuberger repeatedly denied having any knowledge of such cases, even when asked about cases that had been widely reported in the national media and prominent swimming publications. Opposing attorneys were so incredulous that at one point one of them asked Neuberger if he took ‘any kind of psychiatric drugs or was under the influence of alcohol during the deposition or anything that could impair your memory.’ Neuberger said he was not. ‘The attitude is let’s smooth things over. Let’s hide things.’ Critics say the continued high rate of incidents of sexual abuse is largely the result of USA Swimming’s failure to implement policies that would create effective deterrents.  

Concussion Inc.

By Irvin Muchnick
February 22, 2018

Director Woessner – Most Infamous For Helping A Secretly Banned Olympic Coach Get A New Job At The Nearby Country Club Aquatics Center

First, USA Swimming Director of Safe Sport, Susana Woessner, resigned while admitting that she “engaged in kissing on a single occasion with coach Sean Hutchison, now accused of long-term grooming and abuse of his swimmer Ariana Kukors. Woessner had been part of the team that investigated the Hutchison-Kukors relationship in 2010-11, in the process wrestling it to a time-limit draw – Hutchison was “exonerated” of Code of Conduct violations but decided to resign as director of the Fullerton training center anyway. In a Monday email to USA’s CEO Tim Hinchey, Kukors’ lawyer Bob Allard demanded the dismissal of both Woessner and Pat Hogan, the organization’s long-time director of Club development – later on Thursday, Hogan quit but unlike Woessner, Hogan offers few words and not even a parsed explanation. 

The Case: Pat Hogan

There are figures in swimming accused of abuse and those accused of the cover-up of the same. Pat Hogan was a dual-threat, as he seems to have risen in swimming administration because that’s where the most slippery half-truths thrived. He was the Club Development Division Director at USA Swimming, educating coaches and clubs about child-protection safeguards. His relationship with his first wife began one year after she began training with him at an Atlanta area swim club when she was 18 years old and he was 27 at the time. He married her at 18 but had begun dating her earlier. The couple later divorced. “It’s the old boy, the good old boy mentality that USA Swimming still has because of the good old boys that still run that organization,” Thompson said. “Sexual relationships are acceptable. That’s not acceptable. That’s not protecting children.” Executive Director Wielgus added: “There was nothing wrong with that relationship. I’m O.K. with it.” 

In 1983, a traumatized swimmer being supervised by coach Hogan mysteriously scratched her events at the Junior Nationals meet in Indianapolis, following an encounter with him the night before that remains controversial and murky. Hogan’s masterpiece, however, remains the story of Everett Uchiyama, the National Team Director, who was secretly separated from and banned by USA Swimming in 2006. The key with Uchiyama is that his scenario unfolded four years before USA Swimming began publishing a banned list. That would come about in the backlash following two televised investigations of the organization’s systematic abuse, which he had been able to conceal even from the Board of Directors. The reason for Uchiyama’s resignation: allegations that he had molested an underage girl at a prior coaching stop. 

The termination agreement was confidential. Uchiyama set out in search of the next adventure on his journey for gainful employment and career fulfillment and found it as the Aquatics Director of the Country Club of Colorado. When he applied for the job, the Country Club asked who could provide references about his background and character. Uchiyama named Hogan. The interview form, later produced in a civil lawsuit by a swimming abuse victim, showed that Hogan said Uchiyama’s attendance at his prior job had been “acceptable.” So were his “dependability,” “initiative,” and “ability to get along.” Why did Uchiyama leave? “Personal choice” was how the interviewer recorded Hogan’s answer. Anything else? Yes, Pat Hogan is recorded replying – Everett Uchiyama was a “great people person.”

Hogshead-Makar asks, “Where did Wielgus get his power from? The coaches were his power base so (it was) difficult for him to come down hard with strict prescriptions when he is the one who hires and fires them.” 

…A number of top coaches are married to swimmers they once coached, which has fuelled the resistance to measures designed to deter inappropriate behaviour and normalized coach-swimmer relationships within the sport (also in Canada). When the organization allows for marriages, allows for the 11-year-old to see her 18-year-old teammate who she thinks is a peer, she thinks they are the same, they go to the same meets, they’re staying in the same hotel, they are working out together, then she sees that (older swimmer) marrying their coach so she thinks this is true love and doesn’t recognize what an inappropriate situation this is…

For several years, Jill Chasson, 1992 Olympian, was chairman of USA Swimming’s National Board of Review, which handles sexual abuse cases. She is married to her former coach Mike Chasson. Jill resigned her position shortly after Greg Winslow, who coached for Mike Chasson at Sun Devil Aquatics in Tempe, Arizona was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage swimmer. It wasn’t the first time USA Swimming had dragged its feet when it came to implementing policies governing sexual misconduct. The issue of sex abuse of swimmers was something that had been raised to the Board of Directors in 1990 and 1991. Former Olympic swimmer and member of USA Swimming Board of Directors David Berkoff remarked on July 14, 2010: “I cannot accept the status quo. I cannot accept abuse in this sport any pedophile coaches in our midst. I am not going to stop until USAS institutes significant and meaningful changes and I ask that you join this effort. I suggest background checks and a formal code of conduct BUT Coaches refused it as ‘unfeasible and intrusive.” It took seven years from the date of forming an abuse subcommittee in 1992 to get a Code of Conduct in place, and 13 years to get background checks implemented. 



By Tory Hart 
March 27, 2019

According to documents obtained by the OC Register’s parent company the Southern California News Group, the sworn statements were given by Dara Torres and her lawyer contradict what USA Swimming’s former athlete protection officer Susan Woessner originally relayed to USA Swimming on Torres’ behalf. The statement in question was whether or not Torres saw the now-banned coach Hutchison leaving Ariana Kukors‘ hotel room during a U.S. National Team training camp leading up to the 2009 World Championships.

Hutchison landed a permanent ban from Olympic sports (including USA Swimming) by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport in October 2018 after an investigation into allegations made by Kukors (now Kukors Smith) that he began “grooming” her at the age of 13 and sexually abusing her at 16. The “hundreds of documents” obtained include confidential USA Swimming emails, reports, memos, and depositions that reportedly show that former USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus and other high-ranking officials were concerned with protecting Hutchison’s reputation and well-being. In December 2010, USA Swimming enlisted FBI veteran Paulette Brundage to investigate Hutchison and Kukors’ relationship amid allegations that Hutchison was sexually or romantically involved with Kukors – a violation of USA Swimming’s Code of Conduct. A statement given by Wielgus cleared Hutchison’s name two months later, maintaining that a “full investigation by an independent investigator found no evidence to substantiate the existence of an inappropriate sexual relationship between Coach Hutchison and the athlete.” But in a deposition obtained by the SCNG, Brundage stated that “It was not a full investigation,” and disputed an investigator’s report presented to USA Swimming officials by the governing body’s general counsel. She also said USA Swimming cut off the investigation before she could interview “four key witnesses,” including Dana Vollmer, Kukors-Smith’s roommate at the training camp in question – as well as Torres, then-US National Team Director Mark Schubert, and Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team coach Bill Jewell. She also took issue with the fact that Torres and Jewell were first interviewed by Wielgus and Woessner, which compromises the claim that USA Swimming brought in an independent party to conduct the investigation.

The OC Register story goes on to detail the ways in which Brundage says she was effectively blocked from interviewing witnesses and lays out a number of conflicts of interest presented by USA Swimming in confidential emails about the investigation. Finally, the documents obtained show that USA Swimming worked with Hutchison to draft its press release regarding the conclusion of the investigation, offering him the chance to make edits as he saw fit (which he did not do), and repeatedly showed “deference” to Hutchison throughout the initial investigation.

Male Swimmers Abused – Not Just Females


By Corky Siemaszko
January 5, 2020

Canadian Swimmer Alleges He Was Groomed 

By Sex-abusing Ohio State Doctor Richard Strauss

Derek de Jong said the predator used a spot in a prestigious program as bait, according to a lawsuit, a gift with some awful strings attached. Toward the end of his sophomore year at Ohio State University, then-star swimmer Derek de Jong discovered that he was a lock for one of just a dozen spots in the school’s prestigious exercise science program – and that the team physician, Richard Strauss, had made it happen. De Jong said he had not even considered applying because his grades were nothing special and this was a highly competitive program. “Strauss found out that I was interested in medicine,” de Jong told NBC News. “He intervened on my behalf without my request.” But Strauss wanted something in return, he said. “When I got in he congratulated me and asked, ‘When do you want to repay me for it?’” de Jong said. De Jong said he knew what Strauss was after. Now, the former swimmer has joined the growing legion of men who say they were sexually abused by Strauss while he worked at Ohio State from 1978 to 1998 – and are suing the university for failing to protect them from a predator. Strauss died in 2005.

De Jong, 48 and living in Nova Scotia with his wife and teenage daughters, attended the university in the early 1990s and was recruited from abroad because of his athletic prowess. De Jong said that because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of Strauss, he gave up swimming, was unable to focus and set out on a self-destructive path that included a disastrous stint in the Royal Canadian Navy and a lifetime of anger issues from which he is still trying to recover. 

In his complaint, filed on Dec. 20, de Jong says Strauss abused him four times from 1990 to 1995. The first time Strauss abused de Jong, according to the complaint, was during a routine physical where Strauss “pressed his body” against him and assaulted him. When de Jong objected, Strauss insisted, “I have to give you a good exam,” the complaint states. On another occasion, Strauss accosted the swimmer in the shower, masturbated in front of him and took photographs of de Jong, the complaint states. 

In 1994, he said he had to fight Strauss off when he sought treatment for a sinus infection. “I had a severe sinus infection and he wanted to examine all my glands for swelling. So he had me drop my pants. When he went for my back again, I pushed him off and barked at him,” de Jong said. Strauss backed off and after making de Jong wait an hour, wrote him a prescription for penicillin. That afternoon, de Jong said he had an allergic reaction to the medication and rather than face the doctor again, he got in the pool and swam with a swollen throat and hands. “I got in the pool and swam, with a severe anaphylactic reaction to penicillin that Strauss gave me and swam because of fear of him,” he said. De Jong said he never directly told athletic staff members the specifics that he had been abused by Strauss because he was too embarrassed and feared losing his scholarship. But about two weeks after the first assault during a 1990 physical, de Jong said he complained to a member of the athletic staff about Strauss ogling athletes in the locker room and showering with the team. “Derek, what do you want us to do about it?” de Jong recalled the staff member replying. From then on, de Jong said he would routinely inform staff members whenever Strauss was loitering in the locker room but neither intervened. “They knew what Strauss was doing because everybody talked about it, and they knew he was hanging out with the athletes because he was so brazen about it,” de Jong.

Perkins-Coie law firm, which was hired to independently investigate allegations that OSU failed to stop Strauss, released a 180-page report that found the school knew for two decades that Strauss was molesting male athletes but failed to stop him. “Many of the students felt that Strauss’ behaviour was an ‘open secret’ as it appeared to them that their coaches, trainers, and other team physicians were fully aware of Strauss’ activities, and yet few seemed inclined to do anything to stop it,” the report states.

It is unclear if de Jong’s coaches were among the former coaches who were questioned by the investigators. When asked for comment on de Jong’s allegations, the school responded by saying that it “has led the effort to investigate and expose Richard Strauss’ abuse and the university’s failure at the time to adequately respond to or prevent it.” Since the release of the Perkins-Coie report, Ohio State has apologized repeatedly and insisted it was “actively participating in good faith in the mediation process directly by the federal court.” The school has not yet reached a settlement with the 300 or so Strauss victims who have filed federal lawsuits against the school.

De Jong said his swimming career tanked after the abuse and he went from being Ohio State’s most promising swimmer on the undefeated 1990 team to not swimming at all when he graduated in 1995. He said his dream was to compete for his native Canada in the Olympics. Raised in a Toronto suburb, de Jong was recruited by Ohio State two years after he swam in the 1988 Olympic qualifying trials at age 17. 

After graduating, de Jong returned to Ontario where he said he isolated himself from family and friends and took a job driving a truck to make sure he had as little contact with people as possible. In 2005, he joined the navy. But, de Jong could not shake the rage building inside him. In 2012, de Jong said he snapped after weeks of harassment by fellow officers that culminated in a female officer urinating on the floor of his cabin. When de Jong complained, he said his superiors laughed at him and made derisive cracks like, “Some men have to pay for a service like that. De Jong eventually deserted by jumping ship in Key West, Florida, and flying back to Canada to turn himself in to the Military Police. He later pleaded guilty to desertion and was ordered to pay a hefty fine. He was eventually given a medical discharge in 2017, leaving the navy at the rank of lieutenant.

One year later, de Jong said he was watching TV when he learned that Ohio State had launched an investigation into Strauss after whistleblowing former wrestler Michael DiSabato reported, he had also been sexually abused by the doctor. “My first reaction was anger,” said de Jong, who had not even told his family about the alleged abuse by Strauss. “I thought I was going to die with this secret.”

Associated Press

June 10, 2020

http://An Open Letter to USA Swimming and its CEO Tim Hinchey kukors/

Note: Edited in some places due to original length

Open Letter To USA Swimming And Its CEO Tim Hinchey: Fix The Cause Of Your Sexual Abuse Epidemic, Not Just The Symptoms

USA Swimming treated the sexual abuse of minor swimmers for decades as a “symptom” by primarily covering up for the criminal sexual behavior of its member coaches, which has been well chronicled. This ‘Open Letter’ is demanding that Mr. Tim Hinchey, CEO of USA Swimming, fix the root cause of the sexual abuse epidemic. Having been deeply involved in the handling of sex abuse claims against USA Swimming for more than a decade it is clear to us that there remains a deeply embedded culture within your organization, which condones the criminal sexual behavior of coaches towards its underage athletes. 

On June 10, 2020, we held a press conference to announce the filing of several new lawsuits against USA Swimming. At that time, we asked that you take immediate action against those who enabled the pervasive sex abuse within your sport. While some action was taken since that time with regard to a few individuals, only one is known to have any involvement in this scandal. On behalf of the survivors of USA Swimming coaching sexual abuse, I am once again asking that you immediately start to dismantle the culture that has been responsible for the sexual abuse of countless minor swimmers. This needs to start with you publicly and permanently banning at a minimum the following eight (8) individuals from USA Swimming. Please, do not pass the buck to the U.S. Center for Safe Sport or use the “rape and escape” trick that has allowed coaches to resign with their reputations fully intact while evading USA Swimming punishment. Under Article 405 of USA Swimming’s Rule Book, you have the authority to order emergency hearings on matters which if not immediately resolved could cause imminent and irreparable harm to your child members. 

You must use these powers to expel the following persons from USA Swimming

Murray Stephens, Head coach at North Baltimore Aquatics Club in Maryland, home of Michael Phelps, for 35 years and coached for Team USA in the 1996 Olympic games. USA Swimming knew since October 2011 that Stephens is a sexual predator. Instead of banning him, they allowed him to quietly resign although being showered with accolades and honors, including the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) Hall of Fame. 

Paul Bergen, served on USA Swimming coaching staff to World Championships in 1975, 1978 and 1982, was an Olympic coach in 1980, 1984, 1988 and 2000. USA Swimming has known for years that Bergen sexually abused Olympian and gold medal winner Deena Deardurff-Schmidt throughout her teenage years. USA Swimming has refused to ban Bergen, creating the excuse that his crimes occurred prior to USA Swimming’s formation in 1980. Instead, they honoured him by naming an international swim meet for young kids after him. His name was not removed from that meet until we publicly called attention to it in 2013.

John Leonard, head of ASCA for over 30 years, was responsible for the decision to honour Stephens with a spot in the ASCA Hall of Fame, knowing full well his history of his sex abuse. The same year, Leonard put coach Pete Malone in the ASCA Hall of Fame, following Malone’s sudden resignation from the Kansas City Blazers. When Everett Uchiyama was abruptly and quietly removed from his position as National Team Director of USA Swimming for his admitted sexual abuse of a minor female swimmer, Leonard dismissed this criminal activity as the “errors of a young man”. After Uchiyama was peddled to a nearby posh country club in Colorado Springs, Leonard on behalf of ASCA awarded him with a coveted Swim School Franchise for use at the club’s aquatic center through which Uchiyama would have access to minors. In leadership positions with USA Swimming since 1990, Leonard has acted as a vocal and determined opponent to meaningful solutions to protect children from abuse, including working against the Code of Conduct, Zero Tolerance Policy, Child Protection Policy and expanded background checks.

Mary Jo Swalley as Head of USA Swimming’s Southern California regional arm or ‘local swim committee’ (“LSC”) since 1989 virtually handed over a young teenage swimmer to Uchiyama. She did not intervene nor pay for separate hotel rooms for the swimmer and Uchiyamato attending Junior Nationals, allowing him to abuse the swimmer in the hotel room they shared. When the swimmer’s sexual abuse claim came to light several years later, Swalley lamented at a USA Swimming-related Board meeting that she mishandled the situation and openly feared that she would be treated as the ‘fall guy’ due to the sexual abuse that followed. In subsequent leadership roles with USA Swimming, including Vice President, Swalley failed to support efforts to establish policies and programs aimed at preventing sexual abuse by coaches and otherwise, based on information gathered to date, and covered up for predator coaches. 

Mark Schubert, arguably the most decorated coach in the history of USA Swimming has an established history of remaining silent and failing to take action to protect minor swimmers when presented with information about predator coaches. Kelley Currin was sexually abused by her then swim coach Rick Curl beginning in 1982, when she was just 13 and he was 33. The abuse continued for approximately 5 years, and the abuse was well known within the swimming community. Schubert recruited Kelley to swim at the University of Texas in 1989. His callous and depraved reaction was to dismiss her from the team after determining that she was a ‘distraction’. Schubert was on the Board of ASCA when that organization bestowed Curl with the ‘Coach of the Year’ Award in 1994. 

In his capacity as National Team Director for USA Swimming in 2010, Schubert learned that Olympic Coach Sean Hutchison was sexually abusing his swimmer Ariana Kukors. He unconscionably decided to withhold this information until after he was fired by USA Swimming when he tried to extort his way into replacing Hutchison at the Fullerton Aquatics Swim Club (“FAST”). Schubert retaliated against well-respected swim coach Dia Rianda for complaining about predatory behaviour displayed by fellow coach Bill Jewel. In 1988, gold medal winners David Berkoff and Pablo Morales openly talked about how Coach Rick Curl was ‘banging’ his swimmer, abusing Kelly Currin from 1983 to 1987 while coaching her at the Curl Burke Swim Club. When Schubert was in a position to effect positive change within USA Swimming, he remained silent and took no action against the following coaches known by him to be predators: George Gibney, Scott McFarland, Daniel Adam Dusenbury, Will Colebank, Murray Stephens, Richard Quick, Paul Bergen, Andy King, and Mitch Ivey. 

Clint Benton, is a longstanding Board member for the Pacific Swimming LSC. After receiving a sex abuse complaint concerning Andy King in 2003, Benton took orders from USA Swimming Executive Wielgus to cover-up it up. He willingly complied despite being a mandated reporter at the time. As part of this conspiracy, Benton also ordered another reporter, coach Steve Morselli, to remain silent. As a result of the silence and cover-up, Andy King went on to sexually abuse at least one minor girl starting in 2009.

Millie Nygreno, served on the Board for Pacific Swimming for decades. She was aware of Andy King’s predatory conduct in Pleasanton, CA in the early 1980s. As a Board member of the club where King coached, Nygren participated in the decision not to renew King’s contract. He failed to notify law enforcement about King’s criminal behavior. As a result, King went on to sexually abuse several swimmers over the next 25 years in the San Francisco East Bay; State of Washington; Modesto, CA and San Jose, CA.

Steve Morselli, is currently the Head coach for a USA Swimming member club in Pleasanton, CA. He was notified of the sex abuse complaint concerning Andy King in 2003 and stayed silent when requested by Clint Benton despite being under a legal obligation to report King to the police and/or Child Protective Services (“CPS”). Morselli admitted that he knew King was prone to making sexually inappropriate remarks to minor swimmers and yet did nothing about it. Swim USA Executive Wielgus most certainly did not act alone when he enabled dozens of predator coaches to sexual abuse swimmers. 


Robert Allard, Esq., Corsiglia, McMahon and Allard, LLP

San Jose, CA


By Ja’han Jones 
Updated 06/11/2020 4e59c5b6dd4f3be38148?ri18n=true

Note: The following is taken from reports by various News Media 

The allegations have yet to be proven in court

Six Women File Lawsuit Against USA Swimming Alleging Decades Of Child Sexual Abuse

Six women claim USA Swim coaches abused them as children while others in the organization made sure the abuse stayed ‘hidden.’ They endured the abuse from coaches while teenagers and claim the organization continued to provide these coaches access to children. The allegations center on the misconduct of specific coaches and reportedly complicit individuals but also suggest USA Swimming permitted a culture of child sexual abuse.

However, there has been ‘backlash’ against the lawyers involved in the case, Casey Barrett of ‘Cap and Goggles’ (2014), citing Outside Magazine and Slate Magazine. While he agrees that abuse existed he defends the swimming profession in the case of coach Rick Curl scandal in the summer 2012. “What is unworthy of respect is the eager shamelessness in disparaging an entire profession and an entire governing body, men and women overflowing with integrity, who devote their lives to helping young athletes to achieve their dreams” So, there you have it! 

Swimmer Debra Grodensky, 51, claims USA Swimming ignored the abuse she suffered at the hands of coach Andy King, disgraced former USA Swimming coach currently serving a 40-year sentence for child molestation. He began molesting her when she was a teenager in the 1980s and claims he got close to her by convincing her parents she should “abandon all extracurricular activities” and take up swimming. It’s important to understand that the grooming process is not limited to sexual abuse victims, Grodensky said. “He gained control of anyone involved in my endeavours.” She said “hundreds of people were aware of the abuse but a culture of misconduct silenced her suffering. It was that very culture that permitted him to abuse me for years without consequence.” Specifically, Grodensky is among many who accused deceased former USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus of keeping King’s child abuse secret during his tenure. 

Grodensky is joined by former swimmers Suzette Moran and Tracy Palmero, who are making similar claims against USA Swimming officials, alleging a “culture of predation existed within in the organization.” Palmero, 46, said USA Swimming needs to “clean house” for ignoring sexual abuse, which included her own alleged abuse in the early 1990s by former USA Swimming Director Everett Uchiyama. Although USA Swimming reportedly issued a lifetime ban to Uchiyama in 2006 for sexual misconduct, the organization didn’t announce the ban until 2010, after she and her father went public with her allegations. “I believe other coaches on the team knew and did nothing,” she said. As National Team Director, Uchiyama was responsible for selecting National teams, which gave him leverage over aspiring athletes. She said the four-year period in which USA Swimming had apparently banned Uchiyama but failed to announce it was the result of a ‘backroom deal.’ When she detailed her allegations coming forward in 2006, USA Swimming Executive Wielgus had the coach sign a ‘secret confidential agreement admitting to the abuse and resigning. 

A Funny Thing Happened ‘On The Way To The Forum’ (famous ‘Roman’ saying) 

July 6, 2020: Working away, organizing the research findings, Facebook alert came in for a posted article on a new lawsuit against USA Swimming!


By Jared Anderson

July 5, 2020 fbclid=IwAR1E6GrcVBN4Zvn275YBtSiNNWHmduY0OYmeepcugdM56p_w7-i7XKANn4w

Robert Allard, Esq., Corsiglia, McMahon and Allard, LLP
San Jose, CA 

Note: The allegations have yet to be proven in court

Bob Allard Calls For Removal Of 8 USA Swimming Figures In Open Letter

Attorney Bob Allard, who frequently represents survivors of sexual abuse, is calling for USA Swimming to expel people from its organization, and asking CEO Tim Hinchey to permanently and publicly ban them from the sport. He identified eight individuals, who have been part of the USA Swimming culture that “has been responsible for the sexual abuse of countless minor swimmers.” 

All eight are related to three civil lawsuits by six survivors of sexual abuse under a new California laws that extend the statue of limitations for such suits, and revolve around three now-banned swim coaches: Mitch Ivey, Everett Uchiyama, and Andy King. The suit says USA Swimming failed to protect the six women from abuse at the hands of their swim coaches and created a culture that allowed abuse to happen. In a press conference last month, one of those abuse survivors, Debra Grodensky named some of the eight coaches, Benton, Nygren, and Morselli as responsible parties. Allard represents all six of the women in three new lawsuits along with approximately 5 more who have come forward since the last press conference.

USA Swimming Getting Rich: Money – Money and More Money

USA Swimming generated $39.62 million in revenue in 2016, according to Internal Revenue Service records and USA Swimming documents. Wielgus was paid $966,047 in 2016 plus another $72,931 from the USA Swimming Foundation. He was asked in a June 2010 deposition if he would confirm that protecting the safety of young swimmers, especially against sexual abuse, was USA Swimming’s top goal. “No, I would not, Wielgus said…I would say that has never been our number one goal.” Critics charge that USA Swimming officials instead were driven by Olympic success and attracting corporate sponsors, an obsession that has come at the expense of young swimmers. 

While U.S. swimmers have dominated Olympic swimming since the inaugural Modern Games in 1896, the world record performances at recent Olympic Games has elevated swimming to equal billing with track and field and women’s gymnastics as the Games’ marquee sports. Team USA’s 16 swimming gold medals at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro were as many as the next 10 countries combined in the pool and more than all but five countries won in all sports. That success has attracted a new generation of would be Olympians in record numbers and corporate partners like NBC Universal, BMW, Marriott and Omega. USA Swimming has more than 400,000 members with over 54,000 athletes joining the organization between 2010 and 2013. USA Swimming reported $7.27 million in annual sponsorship revenue in 2016, up from $2.5 million in 2006. 

Protecting “The Brand” Hasn’t Come Cheap

USA Swimming spent $7.45 million on legal fees between 2006 and 2016, according to the organization’s financial records, nearly 10 times the amount USA Track & Field paid during that same period. In the last three years USA Swimming officials, under pressure from their secondary insurance carrier, and wanting to avoid the negative publicity a lawsuit would generate, has arranged settlement agreements in at least three states with victims of alleged sexual abuse by swim coaches before the cases were even filed with a court. The USA Swimming Foundation has paid at least $132,926 to GroundFloor Media, a Denver-public relations firm that according to the firm’s website, specializes in “crisis communication and reputation management.” The firm was to provide local swim clubs dealing with sexual abuse scandals “direct public relations and crisis communications resources. Our strategy moving forward will have the ultimate goal of improving the overall local swim clubs dealing with sexual abuse scandals perceptions of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport Program efforts.”

Even more devastating has been the toll sexual abuse within the sport has had on hundreds of young victims. “I can’t sell the Olympic dream anymore because it’s (expletive),” Coach Dia Rianda said. “These people are corrupt and anyone who sits there in a leadership position and allows boys and girls to be sexually exploited, to be manipulated, and exploited in all kinds of ways just to get that gold medal, it’s wrong and it has to stop.” Rianda claims former U.S. National coach Mark Schubert wrongfully fired her because she strongly objected to coach Bill Jewell coaching at the Golden West Swim Club where she worked. Jewell was alleged of inappropriate sexual contact with female swimmers on the pool deck. Schubert took over as U.S. National coach after the 2004 Olympics but later was mysteriously fired by USA Swimming.


Note: Refer to specific citations of Internet sites provided with individual reports

Moceanu, D., & Williams, P., Williams, T. (2012). Off balance. A memoir. New York: Touchstone. Division of Simon & Schuster.

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ASCA Workshop Conference and Presentation

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With Coach Rebecca Atchley – Dr. Schloder was an External Committee Member for Rebeca’s Masters Project Dr. Schloder’s Workshop Presentation

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 Dr. Monika Schloder at the ASCA World Clinic for Swimming, Jacksonville, Florida, Sept 8, 2014 Presenting at the 4-hour Work shop “Dry-land School for Age Group Swimmers” Coaches participate in her workshops… they don’t just sit!

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Developing Physical Literacy

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  1. Kris Houchens

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