by Irvin Muchnick
In a breaking story with major implications for Concussion Inc.s now two-year-long investigation of sexually abusive Brazilian swim coach Alex Pussieldi, USA Swimming has banned for sexual misconduct Florida coach and fellow Brazilian Leonardi Hobi Martins — himself a victim of Pussieldi more than a decade ago, and later his business partner.
Credit SwimSwam.com, https://swimswam.com/leonardo-hobi-martins-added-to-usa-swimming-banned-list/, for being the first to report this latest addition to the banned list. For those of you keeping score, the list now numbers 130, almost all of them for coach-on-athlete sexual abuse.
There were a few dozen when USA Swimming began publishing the list in 2010 after chief executive Chuck Wielguss defiant and disastrous interviews regarding abuse denial and cover-up on two national television networks. USA Swimming recently gave the $1-million-a-year Wielgus a contract extension through 2020 — less than two years after he withdrew from his scheduled induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in the face of a petition by Diana Nyad and other historical abuse victims, who documented perjury in the CEOs public statements in controversies and lawsuits surrounding molesters in his ranks.
The still-eligible Pussieldi is a special case because of how much he illustrates about the border-crossing movements of sex criminals with the assistance of USA Swimmings de facto affiliate, the American Swimming Coaches Association. John Leonard, the executive director of ASCA, is on record as asserting that his organization has no direct role in the amateur sports abuse problem in any way, shape, or form.
As the Summer Olympics loom, foul water and the Zika virus arent the only potential threats to the health and safety of participants. Pussieldi is now a swimming commentator on the Brazilian network SporTV — his countrys equivalent to NBCs Rowdy Gaines. Pussieldi fled back to Brazil from Fort Lauderdale as my original reports on him, in collaboration with Tim Joyce, were unfolding in early 2014.
From heavily redacted documents in a civil lawsuit against USA Swimming (part of a massive discovery file the group relinquished only on order of the California Supreme Court, which led to its being subpoenaed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation), Joyce and I identified Pussieldi as the coach who was accused, from multiple credible directions, of having kept Peeping Tom bathroom videotapes of Brazilian and Mexican swimmers he was housing in Florida, as well as maintaining a collection of videos of his own sex with underage boys.
After one of Pussielldis tenant-ward-swimmers revolted, Pussieldi physically assaulted him on the practice deck of the team he was assistant-coaching at the Fort Lauderdale Hall of Fame complex. The club was run by the late Hall of Famer Jack Nelson, who is well established as having sexually abused Diana Nyad when he coached her at the exclusive Pine Crest School in the 1960s.
The ensuing administrative and police investigations of Pussieldi were covered up by city officials and the Sun Sentinel newspaper, and he was allowed to continue coaching other clubs in South Florida (culminating in his own Davie Nadadores) for another decade. At the bottom of this article are complete headline links to our Pussieldi coverage.
Leo Martins was well known in the local swimming community as Pussieldis boy. (Pussieldi often referred to Martins as his son, and there is evidence that he became legal guardian of some of the swimmers he imported from around the world.) Martins was one of the swimmers living in the house with the Mexican who first blew the whistle on the coachs Peeping Tom practices. And Martins is believed to be the person who, in the subsequent covered-up Fort Lauderdale police investigation, acknowledged that Pussieldi had inappropriately touched him.
Local sources say that, at the time, Martins leveraged the incident into a stream of expensive gifts from Pussieldi.
Kaley Lucas, now a Hollywood Beach municipal lifeguard, and at the time a swimmer and a girlfriend of another of Pussieldis house tenants, was notably disgusted at a poolside celebration of Martins departure to Arizona State University on a swimming scholarship.
Martins profile at LinkedIn, now deleted, showed that he got an ASU business degree specializing in travel management, and advertised himself as a consultant for international travel packages.
After graduation, Martins worked with Pussieldi in coaching the Kuwaiti national team. Florida public records also show that Martins was Pussieldis partner in a company called Best Swimming.
Pussieldis position in Kuwait had been brokered by former USA Swimming board president — and long-time board member, international sport official, and consultant — Dale Neuburger.
On February 19, 2014, USA Swimming safe sport director Susan Woessner emailed a Florida coach, who had complained to her about Pussieldi, that the Brazilian was under investigation. I understand your frustration and I can only offer frustration myself when I review the file and wonder why more was not done then. I can tell you that we are committed to trying to right that wrong now, Woessner wrote.
What remains to be seen is whether this new banning of Leo Martins is an isolated event or a dynamic development in the process of exposing Pussieldi and accounting for USA Swimmings and ASCAs many years of employing and covering up for him.
OUR ALEX PUSSIELDI SERIES