Friday, March 11, 2011

Splash of Truth

If you're a USA Swimming member, you probably got the same e-mail I got yesterday. Signed "A Splash of Truth", the e-mail was the second in the last month to allege that there is high level corruption across USA Swimming.

One of the reasons I felt compelled to blog again was the original e-mail. I wanted to write to make sense of it all. The first anonymous e-mail was followed by a swift denial from USA Swimming. If you haven't received this most recent version, I will excerpt some of the most dramatic parts. First the allegations of corruption

"Now that USA Swimming swept the Hutchison scandal under the rug, Hutchison is off to Brazil to coach with a five year, $400,000.00 per year contract.  It should be interesting to see which post graduate athlete(s) follow Coach Hutchison to Brazil"

This is perhaps the strangest part of the e-mail and the hardest to believe. I could be wrong but if Hutchison was in Brazil then I would think more people would know and it might get a little mainstream coverage from the Washington Post.

"Where does the money from the three million dollars in "Safety Rebates" that USA Swimming receives every year from United States Sports Insurance Company (USSIC) go?"

And then there are allegations like this, of the like that I have heard whispered by club coaches across America. There does seem to be a genuine demand for more information about this, but few have had the courage to ask.

"Unfortunately, Wielgus and USA Swimming have a lot to hide and, at their request, the second deposition is sealed"

Count me among the people who would love to see Wielgus' testimony unsealed. When Wielgus was deposed I tried in vain by myself to find the records of his deposition. If you're someone with more legal experience than me that can tell me why someone would want their testimony sealed besides it being very embarrassing to them I would be interested to know.

What follows these allegations is a name by name breakdown of individuals involved with USA Swimming that
"Splash of Truth" believes have engaged in illegal behaviour. I won't rehash too much of the list, but the accusations are pretty heavy stuff. The largest portions are devoted to former USA Swimming President Dale Neuberger, whom the writer states "
denies knowing the circumstances or having any knowledge of why Tony Young was dismissed from Carmel High School...Young was criminally indicted for covering up and not reporting a vicious hazing incident where a mentally handicapped swimmer was impaled by a shampoo bottle...Neuburger later hired Young at the Indiana Sports Corp". The writer also states that ASCA Executive Director John Leonard aided George Gibney, a former Irish National Team coach who was accused of sexual abuse by 27 of his swimmers, in leaving Ireland for the United States.

The list goes on, and now we, the American swimming community, are left to make sense of it. No doubt there will be some sort of response from USA Swimming in the coming days as there was after the first e-mail. What will that response be? It seemed that the first response was quite strong as well. The e-mail promises a website in the next ten days. Is this website going to be the Wikileaks of swimming or is this pure slander? I feel conflicted myself- one part of an accusation (about former Kansas City Blazer Coach Pete Malone's attire) seemed downright petty and completely unnecessary. Another line states that Sean Hutchison is coaching in Brazil, which I don't know of and seems a fairly crazy to me. Most of the other accusations are not revelatory in so much that they are the type of thing someone will whisper to you if you hang around enough pool decks. Good luck, however, finding anyone who wants to make the same accusations with their name attached.

What confuses me much more is the lack of dialogue about what is going on. It seems that there is fear to be on one side or the other of this argument. People fear siding with "Splash of Truth" because if you believe the e-mail then you probably also believe that USA Swimming will come after you with a vengeance. At the same time, reading the e-mail would definitely make someone think twice about crossing the writer. Still, a greater part of the indifference may have to do with people not wanting to lend any credence to the argument at all. I'll put myself out there as at least curious. As I've stated in my blog quite definitely, I think that Chuck Wielgus has at best been an embarrassment to USA Swimming and that there are many pieces of information that there are many things about the overall organization that I believe are wrong. This situation deserves more information, and I'm starting to believe that we're going to get it.


  1. Sounds like there are many cover ups in swimming - see what is going on at the Texas high school meets related to equipment failures and officials covering it up... Hmmmmm....

  2. The same thing happened to a swimmer i know in Los Angeles. The CIF semi-finals were altered (for one swimmer - whose club coach is a swim official - by three seconds) knocking my friend out of the finals.