Sports

Swimming: Australia to conduct sexual misconduct review

SYDNEY: Swimming Australia said Thursday it will conduct a full review of allegations of sexual misconduct between coaches, officials and swimmers going back over previous decades.

The statement came after several of Australia’s Olympic swimmers, including Duncan Armstrong, recently called for action on “well-known stories and incidents… (that) have not been addressed”.

The head swimming body said it was an overdue initiative, and an independent panel would assess and conclude in cases as they unfold.

“Within this community, the trust and integrity within our sport is paramount – our athletes and their safety is paramount and the health of the sport is our responsibility,” SA president and yachting great John Bertrand said.

Bertrand said in SA’s search for world best practice it is examining USA Swimming and their Safe Sport programme to develop its own processes.

SA and USA Swimming have developed ongoing close working ties to benchmark each other’s activities in order to grow the sport in both countries, he said.

“We will be appointing a distinguished, retired judge to head up this panel,” Bertrand said.

“The success of this initiative will be measured by the outcomes. We will stand by that.”

Two of Australia’s champion Olympic swimmers Dawn Fraser and Duncan Armstrong said recently it was time for Australian swimming to protect children under its care.

Olympic freestyle champion Armstrong said that those that may have suffered in past decades needed to be supported.

“We have had some disappointing moments in Australian Swimming that we have not addressed,” Armstrong told The Sunday Telegraph last month.

“Within swimming circles there are well-known stories and incidents that have been bandied around for decades and have not been addressed and I hope sooner rather than later people who have harmed these swimmers are brought to justice.”

Fraser said the Swimming Australia and Australian Coaches and Teacher’s Association, who control the accreditation process, should employ more stringent education procedures to ensure the protection of athletes.

Olympic champion Shane Gould recently wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that victims of inappropriate behaviour should be located and helped “no matter what the cost”.

Gould also said any further inquiry into swimming must be conducted by an independent organisation, not the Australian Sport Commission or a service contracted by sporting organisations. – AFP

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