Look for the December issue of Outside magazine on newsstands starting November 11. Outside has published a 14-plus-page investigative package on the USA Swimming sexual abuse and cover-up scandals featured in Muchnick & Joyce’s writings at Concussion Inc.
by Irvin Muchnick
Olympic multi-gold medalist swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar, former senior director of advocacy at the Women’s Sports Foundation, last week launched Champion Women, a new advocacy group for girls and women in sports. See the announcement at http://championwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Champion_Women_launches_Hogshead-Makar_short_2014.2.pdf.
Hogshead-Makar hardly needs the endorsement of Concussion Inc. Her history and powerful record of effectiveness speak for themselves.
But from our perspective, the timing of Champion Women’s start-up is fortuitous. Hogshead-Makar was the activist most responsible for putting together the public petition that in June forced Chuck Wielgus, the chief of USA Swimming, to stand down from his scheduled induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Specifically, Hogshead-Makar got Diana Nyad, a sexual abuse victim of the late Hall of Fame coach Jack Nelson in Fort Lauderdale, to lend her celebrity clout to the effort. A lawyer by trade, Hogshead-Makar also put together the accompanying — and devastating — package documenting swimming’s cover-ups and perjurious statements on Wielgus’s watch.
Hogshead-Makar also personally supported – though the Women’s Sports Foundation did not – a second petition by abuse victims calling on Congress to intervene.
Earlier efforts by Hogshead-Makar already led to substantial changes in the Olympic movement, including new U.S. Olympic Committee rules for national governing bodies that prohibit romantic and sexual relationships between coaches and athletes.
One of the important themes of Champion Women (http://championwomen.org) is that advocacy of this sort is essential because the Olympic Committee is not bound by most civil rights laws in its relationship with athletes who are neither employees nor students. More than three million athletes are under the Olympic umbrella under the Sports Act.