Wednesday, July 14, 2010

RUMOR: Chuck Wielgus and USA Swimming nominated for an 'ESPY Award' - Victims are pissed!

So, I have not blogged in what feels like weeks; (reasons I will get into a another post), but when I woke up this morning to 5-emails in my inbox from victims in the USA Swimming/Andrew King sex abuse scandal informing me that Chuck Wielgus may have been nominated for an ESPY Award in the category of "Best Sports Governing Body Leader," I had to post something.

Definition of what an ESPY award is from Wikipedia:

The ESPY Awards is an annual awards event created and broadcasted by American cable television network ESPN to celebrate their legacy as a sport channel. Athletic awards are given as well. Begun in 1993, the event confers eponymous awards, fully styled as Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards, for individual and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance during the calendar year preceding a given ceremony.

The Nominations for "Best Sports Governing Body Leader" as provided by

Mike Cavanaugh, USA Table Tennis
Cheryl Kirk, USA Racquetball
Steve Stenersen, US Lacrosse
Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming

If Wielgus did get nominated, this nomination is so absurd and beyond comprehension one has to ask how it could be possible especially after looking back at what happened in this past year alone: Sex abuse scandals; (emphasis on plural tense), blaming the victims of said sex abuse scandals not on one televised news segment, but rather two; (ABC News 20/20, and ESPN's Between the Lines).

An anti-trust lawsuit from TYR where the judge did acknowledge that USA Swimming was indeed "rule breaking" but TYR could not demonstrate monetary damage as a result of the activity hence the suit was thrown out.

Complaints filed by former USA Swimming, Vice President, Mike Saltzstein and Indiana, Coach, Ken Stopkotte to United States Olympic Committee (USOC) stating they were signaled out and denied career enhancing duties after complaining to USA Swimming regarding their lousy child protection rules, but then it gets worse!

USA Swimming gives a glowing recommendation to former national team coach , Everett Uchiyama, who was accused of sexual abuse by a 30-something-year-old woman who stated the abuse began when she was just 14-years-old. Uchiyama, was later placed on the "banned list" of coaches yet the USA Swimming "brass" gave Uchiyama a solid recommendation to The Country Club in Colorado Springs who hired him as a swim coach a year later.

These events were chronicled by Associated Press at the Huffington Post:

"... Her accusations, made in a Jan. 24, 2006, e-mail to USA Swimming, led to his resignation under a confidential agreement three days later. He was permanently banned from the organization on Jan. 31, 2006, but that didn't stop him from landing a job at the nearby Country Club of Colorado a year later. ..."

But how long has this sort of nonsense been going on? It is demonstrable that this sort of shady or sketchy ethics handling has been going on since 2003:

From the San Jose Mercury News:

"... In her lengthy, Jan. 20, 2003, e-mail to Pacific Swimming's Benton, Kelly described her experience swimming for King at Chabot 10 years earlier. She said she "was shaking as I type," and called King "a terribly abusive coach" who had made female swimmers kiss the males in front of the team before practice. If they didn't, the whole team had to swim extra laps. "Andy timed it with a stop watch, because the rule was I had to kiss this person for 30 seconds," she wrote.

King also subjected swimmers to lengthy diatribes, filled with comments like "stupid bitch" and "you are an idiot" if they did not swim as well as he wanted, she wrote in her e-mail.

In the same e-mail, she said "over 10 years later, I feel I need to say what I wish I said then. I can't change what happened but maybe something can be done to stop this from continuing." She wrote that she was "writing not to lodge a formal complaint, because perhaps too much time has gone by...."


"... In a Jan. 27, 2003, e-mail, Wielgus wrote that he had talked to the group's attorney and here is our counsel:

"1. No formal complaint is being filed, so there is no formal action for you or us to take.

"2. You should monitor the situation and alert us if any new information comes forward.

"3. USA Swimming will open a file on this matter and while we will take no action at this time, we will remain alert for any new information.

"4. This matter should be kept confidential by both you and us.

"5. When and if any new information comes forward, we will assess the situation at that time and determine if any action is required."


So, how with a straight face or a moral conscience can this nomination be made? Who made the nomination? Perhaps the voters need to be educated on how both swimmers, parents, and most especially the victims feel about this.


Caren said...

I've written anonymously before as a victim, but oh my gosh. I cannot even begin to tell you how pissed I am about this. Thank you for continuing to press the issue through your blog.

Tony Austin said...

You're welcome. Let's home this nomination is not true.

Caren said...

Ahhhhh Thank Goodness. Just confirmed by ESPN that Chuck is NOT eligible for an ESPY award.

Lisa said...

I freaked when I saw this and I googled "ESPY Nominees 2010" and found the official list of nominees. There is no award for best head of organization/enabler of sexual abuse. Here's the link: (scroll down for the list.)

Keep this issue out there, Tony!

Tony Austin said...

Awesome, he definitely does not deserve one.

Katie said...

I would like to know how this all got started. I found a Texas Swimming blog which lists him as a nominee here:

But nothing beyond that. Maybe there was an original list of nominees that was then retracted?

Tony Austin said...

nonetheless, it definitely allowed for a recap of the situation so I have no regrets posting my rant.

Anonymous said...

What's going on with SwimWall Tony? Haven't seen a new article since June! Are you still developing it?

Tony Austin said...

I want Swim Wall to the best swim site there is. I even pondered buying the FloSwimming video content.

I need writers! I need Photographers and it has been a challenge to get content that makes you go "WOW!

I experimented with Associated Press but they cannot produce enough content and the fees would be better spent on Photographers and paying individual writers to write content.

I want a results page that looks as good or better than

Friends are saying, "Tony, just make it like the blog but with more photography," but I have different goals.

I want SwimWall to be visually amazing 100% of the time and I need to assemble a team of photographers and that is taking time. To do this right I need more resources. It will happen but it is going slow.

I am good in France, Northern California and So Cal as well and I will have Mark at Nationals.

I am doing a new budget for SwimWall and I may actually be hiring writers regionally.

I am starting SwimWall at a time when there is no money in this industry. Even athletes are being offered as little as $15,000 to wear a companies suit

So, I am in the process of covering only the meets I want to which is generally France since I love Sprinting and the French swimmers have been really good to me.

Anonymous said...

Nice recap Tony!

Wish it was for a more pleasant reason.

On the bright sight, at least Olympian David Berkoff's abuse legislation is the most logical and promising to date IMO to address this sad issue.

The first official draft will be released very soon.

Your blog will be one of the first that gets it, hopefully in just a few more days.

Anonymous said...

So, how with a straight face or a moral conscience can this nomination be made?

Who made the nomination?

Pretty obvious it was spawned from inside the same PR firm helping the oil company in the Gulf.

billyswims said...

Ever think that someone out there in cyberspace is pulling your leg.
That's one problem with Internet and some bloggers - too often no one checks the truth of statements and it just becomes one big rumor mill.
It would be helpful if you stop mentioning the cheater coach of fishers Ken Stopkotte as a do-gooder on you site. His USOC complaint was a smokescreen, he was granted permission to attend the all star meet and then didn't bother to show up. See this story in the Indy Star which points out some interesting details about his falsifying more than 100 meet results including reversing legitimate disqualifications.
He is not a "good guy" in this awful scandal of sex abuse but someone trying to cover-up his own wrongdoings and lack of integrity.

Tony Austin said...

Hello BillySwim,

I made it clear it was a rumor, but perhaps not well enough?

The rumor was posted at two sites - Texas Swimming and the site I linked to.

My new site, SwimWall, should be held to the "internet standard" you suggest. The SCAQ blog is simply my personality, my bad grammar, and my hyperbolic point of view; And I do see the world in a hyperbolic fashion, I am simply reacting to the environment I observe or think I observe.

As for Ken or Mike Saltzstein and especially myself. There is no reservoir of perfect people. Even Mother Teressa, if you believe Christopher Hitchens, published charges about her that included gross neglect, including physical and emotional abuse at her orphanages, and that charge went unchallenged by her or her supporters. In her diary she even doubted the existence of God, but I still think she is very boss!

I can't look into the souls of people and be the judge.

Ken and Mike filed a complaint and the USOC agreed to investigate it. A week or so later the USOC over-promised stating they would look into a global policy in regards to child protection yet nothing has come about.

I know nothing of this cheating reference you mentioned.

I am impressed with the two of them in that they have created the press needed to get USA Swimming off their asses and doing something about this issue. USA Swimming certainly does not take me seriously despite that their lawyers have brought up my name twice to two separate lawsuit depositions.

Anonymous said...

It's almost September 1st, and Pat Hogan still has a job.


When will someone look into his 1983-84 incident while coaching Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta? No, I don't mean the 17 year old swimmer he ended up marrying. I mean the 15 year old in the Howard Johnsons hotel room at LC Junior Nationals in Indianapolis.

I wish the victim would go public. A note to that victim: It will liberate you, the truth will set you free. And perhaps the sport you loved so much, may be saved for your kids and grandkids. We were all there. We remember what happened just like you. We will verfiy your story, but we just can't tell it. That has to be up to you.

Tony Austin said...

Anonymous, send me a private email please - this is an extraordinary allegation and if real, it should be investigated immediately and if not, the comment should be deleted.

Please contact me.