by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
In a campaign organized by the Women’s Sports Foundation at the request of many survivors of sexual abuse by coaches in USA Swimming, prominent names in the sport – led by open water swimming legend Diana Nyad – today asked the board of directors of the International Swimming Hall of Fame to rescind the scheduled June 13 induction of Chuck Wielgus, the executive director of USA Swimming since 1997.
The petition accuses Wielgus of not showing leadership on the abuse issue:
“Not until Wielgus was heavily pressured by the United States Congress, by heart-breaking media stories on the unrelenting parade of victims, by lawsuits, and by new United States Olympic Committee (USOC) rules, did USA Swimming start to protect victims. In short, when it comes to sexual abuse, Chuck Wielgus has not been a leader in protecting victims; he has instead responded to outside pressure, and only after other avenues of obfuscation have been exhausted.”
Concussion Inc. has uploaded a copy of the full petition to http://muchnick.net/wielguspetition.pdf. The exhibits to the petition are viewable at http://muchnick.net/wielgusexhibits.pdf. As soon as we have a web address where members of the public can view the document and choose to sign their own names to it, we will add that information.
The Wielgus petition follows one last week in which the Women’s Sports Foundation and signatories called for revocation of the memberships of accused molester speedskating coach Andy Gabel in that sport’s Hall of Fame and national governing body.
Nancy Hogshead-Makar, senior director of advocacy for the foundation, told us that today’s petition was sent to Bruce Wigo, president and CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
“When it was announced that Chuck Wielgus was voted into the Hall of Fame, victims reached out to the Women’s Sports Foundation to protest his induction,” Hogshead-Makar said. “I called Bruce, who reported that the board didn’t have materials to consider the issue when the members voted, but that they’d be happy to consider some if they were put together.”
Hogshead-Makar added: “Almost everyone who has signed onto the petition has expressed their love for the sport and wants to see it thrive. I am certainly one of those.”
Next at Concussion Inc.: Full text of the petition and its signatories.