by Irvin Muchnick
Over the weekend I wrote about the shocking comment by David Berkoff on November 13 on the comment board at the website of Swimming World magazine:
“So I guess that nobody here is in favor of due process? Girl claims something happened so it MUST have happened? Lynch-mob mentality? Or should all parties involved in such accusations be treated fairly and let the due process sort out the issues? Or are we just interested in castrating all the men around here?”
But that was November 13. A lot can change in 24 hours, and on November 14 Berkoff took a completely different position on the comment board of another swimming “news” site, SwimSwam.com.
If Berkoff zigged and zagged this much in the water, his 100-meter backstroke races would have been about 107 linear meters, and he never would have won a gold medal and wound up in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Berkoff’s series of Swimming World comments (captured by us at http://muchnick.net/berkoffcomment.pdf, in case someone tries to play around the edges of the record) is negative toward Rachel Sturtz’s long and devastating article, “Unprotected,” in the December issue of Outside magazine.
“Article looks more like a large book report than anything. Regurgitating old information that has already been reported on by others, while giving no actual citations, is not investigative reporting,” he sniffs.
This is in keeping with the Swimming World review itself, which dismisses the Outside piece as an “overview” of the past. Yeah, some overview, some book report: just a complete chronology of what happened to abuse victim Anna Strzempko, at the hands of coach Randy Smith, and what USA Swimming didn’t do about it post-2010. Plus the most complete technical breakdown yet of swimming’s liability insurance scam, which has included an offshore reinsurance subsidiary out of reach of U.S. law and regulation.
But, again, that was Berkoff then. The SwimSwam comment board is Berkoff now. On Friday, the 14th, Berkoff wrote there, in part, “I appreciated hearing how the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in cases against USAS viewed how these case were litigated. It’s a different perspective and I get it. I also appreciated hearing the voice a victim that I had never heard about. I appreciated her heart felt emotions and her feelings of frustration. I get it.”
He goes on to say that his hands are more free to talk about all this now that his term on the USA Swimming is over. (So let’s also correct something in my previous post: Berkoff is no longer the organization’s technical vice president.) And he Berkoff-blastoffs swimming’s board for stacking itself with six ex-presidents, whose presence retards change and makes the price of scandal “far too costly.”
Far too costly for USA Swimming, for sure. And maybe Berkoff means for its many youth athlete victims of coach sexual abuse, too.
Below is the full text of Berkoff’s SwimSwam comment. The full comment board is viewable at least for now at http://swimswam.com/outside-magazine-publishes-story-sexual-abuse-within-usa-swimming-updates-banned-coaches/, and till Internet death do us part at http://muchnick.net/berkoffswimswam.pdf.