Olympic Games | The Guardian
The unacceptable treatment of some swimmers dates back decades, says Swimming Australia. In a statement released on Saturday, the SA said it was “deeply concerned and understands the gravity” of new allegations of abuse within the sport after meeting angry Olympian Maddie Groves.
“We recognize that some members of the swimming community have experienced unacceptable behavior, some decades ago,” the statement said.
At least six former elite swimmers are reported to shortly share their experiences of abuse in the sport. SA said it was not yet aware of the nature of these allegations, stating, “Swimming Australia is deeply concerned and understands the gravity of such allegations … we will always rigorously investigate any complaint”.
The swimmers will come forward amid controversy sparked by two-time Olympic silver medalist Groves in a series of explosive social media posts. Groves withdrew from Australia’s Olympic swimming tests, which ended nine days ago in Adelaide, on the grounds that there are “misogynist perverts in the sport”.
Groves met with SA President Kieren Perkins and CEO Alex Baumann on Friday to explain their concerns. “We met with Maddie Groves and had productive discussions,” said SA. “The most important thing we’re working on right now is making sure Australia has a safe swimming community.”
Groves’ claims led to other reports of bad culture in sport, including incidents of fat shaming of female swimmers. During the exams, the two-time Olympic champion Emily Seebohm spoke of her abuse. “A lot of people said I wouldn’t, I’m too old, I have to lose weight, I have to look different,” said Seebohm after she was selected for her fourth Olympic Games at the Tokyo Games next month.
SA has appealed to all affected swimmers to come forward and will set up an independent, all-women panel to investigate incidents of abuse. “In the coming days we will announce the chairmanship of the independent, women-led body,” said SA. “We have proactively spoken to a number of parents and swimmers at various swimming levels and invited them to contribute to this new panel.
“We have reaffirmed with the swimming community the different ways in which complaints can be handled at Swimming Australia, including several independent options.”
SA boss Baumann carries out a separate strategic review of the SA’s activities.