Congress Must Confront USA Swimming’s Sex-Abuse Enablers in Public Hearings — Not Coddle Them in Private Meetings

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USA Swimming has responded to the news that Congressman George Miller is asking the General Accounting Office to expand to the field of athletics, and especially swimming, an investigation of laws requiring the reporting of sexual abuse of minors.

Susan Woessner, head of the toothless “safe sport” department of this U.S. Olympic Committee national governing body, issued a statement welcoming the intervention. “We look forward to a dialogue with Rep. Miller and will be proactively reaching out to him this week,” Woessner said.

What USA Swimming will be offering Miller is the equivalent of a factory tour. He should reject it, even if it comes complete with an autographed picture of Michael Phelps.

The only reason USA Swimming has something it calls a safe sport department, in the first place, is that CEO Chuck Wielgus made an ass of himself on ABC’s 20/20 more than three years ago. Asked routinely on camera if he felt victims of sex abuse in swimming had an apology coming to them, Wielgus made a face like he was swallowing castor oil, and said no. In the fallout, USA Swimming started publishing a list of banned coaches, and hired Woessner.

Now, in 2013 and 2014, the country’s athletes and sports parents and fans don’t need our elected representatives hobnobbing with these creeps behind closed doors. The documents and mechanics of USA Swimming’s “safe sport” program are simultaneously published and as clear as mud. Rather, we need public hearings, televised live by C-SPAN. At those hearings, we need facts and accountability, not platitudes and social-worker gibberish.

– Why did Rick Curl, the molester of Kelley Davies Currin, go on to enjoy a celebrated international coaching and entrepreneurial career, and remain unexposed and unpunished for decades (while a once-and-future USA Swimming board member flapped his jaw and did nothing)?

– Why did USA Swimming’s “safe sport” bureaucrats not even talk to one of the many known victims of Mitch Ivey (someone a former USA Swimming president and college swimming contemporary claimed, with a straight face, not to know had been busted on ESPN’s Outside the Lines)?

– What are the business relationships among USA Swimming’s sleazy offshore captive reinsurance company, its primary insurance carriers (one of which is also its major sponsor), and an Arizona consultant that appears to have no clients outside the aquatics industry?

These are only a few of the questions. The answers won’t come from Colorado Springs’ calculated and belated “reaching out” to the Washington powers who are charged with returning safety and sanity to out-of-control open amateur sports.

Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick