by Irvin Muchnick
When last we checked in with Craig Lord, editor of SwimVortex, the favorite industry lap dog of American Swimming Coaches Association executive director John Leonard, Lord said he would “think about” releasing documents regarding Leonard and George Gibney, or at least describing them better than Lord has to date.
Lord asserted, but did not back up, the following in his March 7 SwimVortex article: “Documents show that Leonard did indeed supply damning evidence to the potential employer, that Gibney was not employed as a result and that the Irishman took serious offence with ASCA when he found out.”
The reason this is important is the timeline. If Leonard gave Lord documents showing that Gibney was mad at Leonard for not doing more to help after Gibney was fired by USA Swimming’s North Jeffco club in Arvada, Colorado, in 1995, then the documents establish exactly nothing about what U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer called my suspicion that ASCA had “greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation” from Ireland to America. This suspicion could only be addressed by full responses to these questions:
(a) Did John Leonard and/or Peter Banks (ASCA staffer and former Gibney coaching assistant) and/or ASCA have anything to do with Gibney’s 1992 visa application? If so, what was that involvement?
(b) Did Leonard and/or Banks and/or ASCA have anything to do with Gibney’s American coaching job offer letter, which was submitted to the U.S. government at the same time as his 1992 visa application? If so, what was that involvement?
(c) Did Leonard and/or Banks and/or ASCA have anything to do with Gibney’s hire at North Jeffco in 1994?
In the face of these persistent questions, Lord’s posture is an emphatic English harrumph.
“I’m a journalist,” Lord emailed me last Thursday. This came as news to me. I know Lord as Leonard’s spokesman — the person who electronically couriered to me Leonard’s response to Sarah Ehekircher’s allegations that he sexually harassed her in 2003-04. Presumably Leonard couldn’t bear to speak directly for himself or through an employee.
Lord tethered the forwarding of the Leonard statement to a smear question: Has someone been bribing me to write what I’ve been writing about swimming’s abuse problem for more than six years? The answer was and is, No.
Is someone bribing Lord? Or he is just a natural Leonard suck-up? Lord seems to be a journalist the same way Sean Hannity of Fox News is the second coming of Edward R. Murrow.
Lord insisted he was not “the subject of the story,” which he called “a story I am working on.”
I told Lord that I don’t consider that an intellectually honest formulation, since what he published — now more than three weeks ago — was not a mere claim by Leonard but rather Lord’s own affirmative characterization of impliedly read, but unproduced, documents. To the extent he’s “working on a story,” it seems to be one designed to backfill a report he has not so far supported.
If and when Craig Lord and SwimVortex ever publish or explain the mystery documents, remember that the only thing that will matter is the questions above. Anything else is ASCA-captive hot air by someone who apparently needs to remind himself, “I’m a journalist.”