USA Swimming Director Withdraws From Hall of Fame Consideration Amid New Times Investigation Into Sex Abuse
Chuck Wielgus has been the executive director of USA Swimming since 1997. During his tenure, about 100 coaches have been accused of alleged misconduct that has ranged from placing video cameras in swimmers' bathrooms to dealing steroids to molesting girls.
A five-month New Times investigation into the claims that's published in this week's paper includes interviews with swimmers, coaches, and advocates, who fleshed out the claims in chilling detail. The story went to press just as Wielgus was set to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame -- a decision that was met by much fervor and protest.
The final blow against Wielgus came from a group of 19 women -- including the famed long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad -- who released a petition last night to protest the director's induction. Just this morning, USA Today reported that Wielgus and the International Swimming Hall of Fame came to a joint conclusion that the troubled director's invitation should be withdrawn.
Here's what the organization said in a statement:
After significant reflection and discussion, International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) chairwoman Donna deVarona and President/CEO Bruce Wigo, and USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus jointly announce that Mr. Wielgus' name will be withdrawn from consideration of the Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony should be a time to celebrate our sport and the outstanding accomplishments of the individuals being honored. Both ISHOF and USA Swimming believe our mutual decision is in the best interest of the swimming community as a whole, and we are committed to working constructively together with other organizations, including the Women's Sports Foundation, to end sexual abuse and ensure a safe culture for athletes.
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Also notable: USA Swimming's head of public relations resigned at the end of last month.
Although Wielgus was never accused of misconduct himself, he was criticized for not actively combating -- and, arguably, enabling -- a culture of sexual abuse among swim coaches.
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