USA Swimming is—once again—being taken to task for its role in failing to prevent and even covering up sexual abuse within the sport. Sexual abuse in swimming was the subject of a 20/20 investigation in 2010, a devastating Outside magazine piece in 2014, then an Orange County Register investigation last month. As was the case after the crimes of disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar were revealed, Congress has said it will investigate.
Many of the questions will be about who knew what and when, and how this could have been prevented. Of particular focus will be a document, published last week by SwimVortex, that shows an ad hoc committee recommending steps USA Swimming could take to help prevent sexual abuse—back in 1991. Here are the recommendations (the full document is available here):
The subject of abuse comes up, again, in the document under a section labeled “parent and coach education.” For parents, the concern is verbal abuse. For coaches, the section talks about giving coaches information so they know how to report signs of possible abuse of a swimmer at the child’s home.
As for the committee’s suggestions, SwimVortex reported that its recommendations about drug testing were adopted “almost immediately,” while those related to preventing sexual abuse were “were not adopted for a great many years afterward.” USA Swimming eventually launched a program to try and protect athletes, eventually dubbed Safe Sport, in 2010. The person who oversaw Safe Sport has since resigned after a report that she once kissed a coach now accused of sexual abuse.