by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
On the cusp of a new year, in which the Winter Games of the Olympic brand will shortly begin, there’s a lot more happening with investigations of the criminal culture of USA Swimming than the public knows. ESPN won’t even report that three members of Congress are on the case and on the record. NBC, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s multibillion-dollar broadcast partner, refuses to touch the entire subject with a ten-foot lane line.
But swimming sources tell us that child-protection expert Victor Vieth is working furiously on the final touches of his “independent review” of USA Swimming’s “safe sport” program. Vieth will not tell Concussion Inc. how much he’s being paid for this effort, but the internal memo in which the organization’s CEO, Chuck Wielgus, announced a new PR initiative to improve “perceptions” — which we obtained and published over the summer — suggests that Vieth’s compensation is in the six-figure range.
With the Government Accountability Office readying a report about amateur sports organizations and sex abuse, at the request of Congressman George Miller and his minority-party staff at the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Vieth is under extreme pressure from his client to get his report published first. But if Vieth has even a shred of integrity, he also knows that a whitewash report will shatter his credibility in anti-abuse advocacy.
Our information on the final rounds of Vieth’s fact-gathering reflects his desperation to find a report formula that includes “constructive criticism” of aspects of USA Swimming’s asserted reforms (all undertaken after lengthy and embarrassing TV news investigations in 2010), while not frontally indicting this national governing body for both past and current cover-ups.
That is a tall task. Color us skeptical.
Published August 2nd, 2013
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Published November 26th, 2013