Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tara Kirk retires but her lawsuit against 'USA Swimming' moves forward!

Ron Judd of The Seattle Times outlines what led to Tara Kirk's retirement decision and explains thoroughly and accurately how awful USA Swimming management practices truly are, namely their handling of USA Olympic Swim Trials.

In the past year or so we have seen two lawsuits hit USA Swimming: One of them from TYR who accused USA Swimming and Coach Schubert for covertly trying to set up Speedo as the "house brand" (A preliminary ruling was handed down in the case and it wasn't pretty for USA Swimming), and the second from Tara Kirk who was denied a spot on the USA Olympic team after Jessica Hardy tested positive for Clenbuterol.

"...In most other Olympic sports, alternates are named to squads for an Olympics or world championships, just to deal with injury or this sort of eventuality. But not by USA Swimming, which made no effort to even contact Kirk, who was overseas at the time the drug test became public.

Kirk learned of the test on her own, and quickly contacted swim federation officials to ask about being named to the squad. She says both head coach Mark Schubert and Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming, assured her they would "fix" the problem.

Only later did she discover what that meant.

"They lawyered up immediately," she says. Fixing the problem, in their eyes, apparently meant covering their own butts legally, which they did. And continue to attempt to do. ..."

According to The Seattle Times, Jessica Hardy has never fully explained how she accidentally or inadvertently ingested Clenbuterol yet not only was she allowed an incomprehensible amount of time to do so. What really troubles me is that Travis Tygart of USADA and will not return any calls to the Seattle Times to clarify. Talk about flying low and avoiding the radar:

"... In the nearly six months since the Beijing Games, Kirk has seen the organization do everything it could to distance her from her sport, and essentially brand her as a sore loser. Wielgus famously penned a snippy letter to USA Swimming staff, referring to Kirk's (apparently, in his eyes, outrageous) "demands" and once again defending USA Swimming policy as inerrant. The letter's public release set off a furor in the swimming community, much of which believes Kirk -- and other swimmers who stood to be named as replacements -- were wronged by the bungled test affair. USA Swimming even went after Kirk for its own legal fees.


Swimming in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds and it has nothing to do with USA Swimming's management but rather it is all about Michael Phelps and perhaps even Amanda Beard. It has certainly not about Chuck Wielgus or Coach Schubert who in less than 10-months have picked up two lawsuits against the organization with a preliminary ruling in one of them that is definitely not very flattering as to how USA Swimming does business.

1 comment:

Glenn said...

It's a shame for Tara. The whole thing stunk and it's funny that even the SNL skit called out USA Swimming. Their PR machine seemingly sucks. Members better watch for their dues to go up, so they can hire more "consultants".