Published December 1st, 2014
Published December 2nd, 2014
by Irvin Muchnick
As promised yesterday, Concussion Inc. asked U.S. Speedskating boss Ted Morris and board president Mike Plant what happened with the complaints against multiply accused molester Andy Gabel, a member of the sport’s Hall of Fame.
Morris gave convoluted responses, which only go to show how USS, like USA Swimming, deploys make-up-as-we-go jurisprudence and North Korea-style communications.
This corner is pushing the federal government to take to the finish line several active investigations of sexual abuse in our national youth sports programs. And we will continue to do so even if Bill Cosby defects to Liberia with his hundreds of millions, or Rolling Stone’s University of Virginia fraternity rape blockbuster fizzles into another Duke lacrosse team fiasco.
On Gabel, Morris began our email exchange by answering a question with a question: “Did you ask the complainants about the status of the grievance?”
The answer to that one was, “Yes.”
“So why do you need a response from USS as well? Both the complainants and USS received the same answer from a hearing panel in July,” Morris countered.
OK, let’s go back to the formal grievance. Its purpose was to expel Gabel. USS took no action on that. Instead, the organization decided that the complaint was about whether there were violations of USS or U.S. Olympic Committee rules, or provisions of the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act (whose obsolescence and inadequacy are manifest).
Here’s the text of the July “resolution” of the Gabel matter:
“Per Section IV 1.10 of the Grievance, the Panel holds USS has not violated USOC Bylaw 8.7(c) because the Panel found USS to be in compliance with the USOC Mandated Minimum Standards Policy for Athlete Safety Programs (Minimum Standards Policy) by completing, signing, and submitting a certificate of compliance to the USOC by December 31, 2013. The Panel also found the Claimants evidence in Section IV 1.10.1 and 1.10.2 to be claims involving specific action(s) or inaction(s) by the Board or the Executive Director involving the direction and/or management of USS, which per USS Bylaw 14.3(B) are not a subject for adjudication by the Panel.. The Panel assumes the Claimants citation of 6(a) of the Minimum Standards is meant to instead cite 6(b), as this is the applicable text quoted.”
In March, Morris told the Chicago Tribune, “We are putting in place the policies that hopefully will prevent something like this from ever happening again.” Morris didn’t say what “this” was, and he wouldn’t even say whether Gabel was interviewed in connection with the allegations.
According to Eva Rodansky, a leader of the slate of complainants, president Plant advised them to “read in between the lines.”
Great – justice, accountability, and oversight by hieroglyphics!
In our exchange yesterday, Morris challenged my assertion that nothing stops Gabel from again assuming a position with a sanctioned skating club. Gabel “is not a current member of any Speedskating club sanctioned by USS and thus not eligible to hold any official positions,” Morris said.
I asked Morris if anything prevented Gabel from joining a sanctioned club and thereby holding any position. Crickets.
What this all adds up to, in my analysis, is speedskating’s variation of USA Swimming’s secret “flagged” list. In addition to the 100-plus banned coach list, which swimming only started publishing in 2010, there are many credibly accused coaches who are being “watched” for possible reentry into the coaching ranks. What all this watching accomplishes is questionable. Some “flagged” coaches, like Murray Stephens, founder of Michael Phelps’ North Baltimore Aquatic Club, are still industry profiteers through their equity in practice and meet facilities. (Stephens, who along with his wife owns the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center in Baltimore, collects more than half a million dollars a year in NBAC rent.)
Other flagged coaches, like Mitch Ivey (before he was banned 30 years too late, conveniently as Congressman George Miller and FBI investigations heated up), write literature and consult for the American Swimming Coaches Association – whose executive director, John Leonard, says is not an organization whose purpose is protecting kids “in any way, shape, or form.”
And still others raise their “flags” at the old perverts’ home, U.S. Masters Swimming. In the case of Everett Uchiyama, the banned national team coach, he got the aquatic directorship at the Country Club of Colorado – just down the road from USA Swimming headquarters in Colorado Springs – with the help of a glowing endorsement from swimming exec Pat Hogan (“great people person”). Before long, Uchiyama had a franchise for a coaches association swim school.
Congress, where are you?