Though the wheels on Capitol Hill don't turn as fast as Missy Franklin's arms in the water, the months are ticking down to a full-blown congressional investigation of allegations of sexual abuse by coaches in swimming and other amateur sports which fall under the umbrella of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Allegations that USA Swimming helped cover up charges of sexual abuse of swimmers by former coach Everett Uchiyama, the national team director who was allowed to secretly resign in 2006, are fueling investigations by a California congressman and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Here's the latest on the continuing scandal from investigative journalist Irv Muchnick.
This week's announcement that USA Swimming has commissioned an
"independent review" of its safe sport program is just the latest in a
series of chess moves by this U.S. Olympic Committee national governing
body in the run-up to a meeting next week with the staff of Congressman
George Miller, the California Democrat and ranking minority member of
the House Committee on Education and the Workforce who is investigating how the organization responds to sexual abuse allegations.
An investigative journalist says USA Swimming's response to all the negative press it has gotten for a generation's
accumulation of anecdotes of coach sexual abuse of underage athletes is just to treat it as a public relations headache.
The evidence suggests that the problem of sex abuse by coaches on college campuses isn't limited to Penn State, and that college administrators may have turned a blind eye in several instances to allegations of sex abuse by swim coaches in age-group programs that shared staff, pools and locker rooms with their own.
The Penn State scandal didn’t occur in youth sports. Yet, it is one of the rare occasions that sex abuse by coaches, which is a major problem in youth sports, got the type of national publicity that allowed the problem to penetrate the public consciousness.
The big question is whether we as a sports society are up to the task of doing to more to prevent future abuse.
As any parent of a competitive age-group swimmer knows, an indoor
pool tends to be a very hot and humid place even at the best of times.
Pack in all the competitors and spectators at a day-long meet and the
temperatures soar, with athletes in or around the pool losing fluids at a
high rate. Practices for competitive swimmers also tend to last
a long time, during which athletes not only burn a lot of calories but
lose a lot of water and electrolytes.
Reliable statistics on the incidence of sexual abuse by coaches in
youth sports are hard to come by, but the
how and why of sexual abuse by coaches are well-known. A leading sports and child psychiatrist offers prevention tips for parents and athletes.