Friday, August 30, 2013

Did USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus just start a "food fight" with the press and swim bloggers?

Edited to 3:12 PM EST to correct typos, better format and to better articulate my opinions. 

Chuck Wielgus penned a blog-post stating that you should NOT trust the bloggers criticizing his organization since we bloggers are uninformed and are simply editorializing. Without saying his name most, if not all, of Chuck's criticism was leveled at Irv Muchnick.

I view this criticism as an attack not just on Irv Muchnik Irv Muchnick but on any and all social media blogs and swimming related websites that have run articles critical USA Swimming. 
"... I have seen headlines and tweets about "Congress Investigating USA Swimming" and that simply doesn’t accurately reflect what is going on. It’s true that USA Swimming and the USOC had an initial meeting Wednesday with the staff of the Committee on Education & the Workforce, of which Rep. George Miller’s (D-Calif.) is the ranking minority member. This was an informational meeting and Congressman Miller was not in attendance. ..."

If there were no whispers or factual information that Congressman George Miller of California was indeed looking at investigating USA Swimming, then why did the USOC and USA Swimming's top executive staff fly to Washington when Congress is not in session to state their case?

The links below are to several credible news organizations that have criticized USA Swimming in a fair and measured manner. One is arguably a blog and the other, the Washington Post Editorial Board, is an obviously an op-ed but the fact remains that there is a lot of anger pointed at how Chuck Wielgus is steering his ship and that is why Congress is interested.

  1. Associated Press
  2. ABC NEWS 20/20
  3. Arizona Central (NBC)
  4. The Huffington Post
  5. National Public Radio (NPR)
  6. The Colorado Springs Gazette 
  7. ESPN Between the Lines
  8. The New York Times
  9. The Orange County Register
  10. The Washington Post Editorial Board

I listed ten organizations but there are more. Swimmers, parents, coaches and athletes must realize that USA Swimming is in a poor managerial control and that is why Congress is looking.

Some weeks ago an internal document was leaked within USA Swimming that came straight out of Bruce Stratton and the Chuck Wielgus' office. This "Orwellian" document is titled: Update Safe Sport Action Plan. (I call it Orwellian since there was nothing in there that made the sport any safer.) Therein the document mentions that $200,000 would be budgeted for specific public relations activities. The bulk of it would be spent on a independent review of their Safe Sport program, some of the funds would be allocated towards PR coaching for specific executives such as Chuck Wielgus, and the rest would be allocated to assist any club who is being sued for sexual abuse.

None of this currency was earmarked for victim counseling or medical doctors. It was designated to protect USA Swimming and the Local Swim Clubs only. That policy idea came out Chuck Wielgus' office and it's purpose was not victim oriented or Safe Sport centric at all.

There are many good people in the USA Swimming Safe Sport division. I have dealt with two individuals in that group who were cordial and professional. I am simply not impressed with how their executive director who collects somwhere near $750,000-a-year from the non-profit group does business. Perhaps Congress believes the same.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Brazil: The 2016 Olympics have no support whatsoever from the population and now the Mayor of Rio regrets that they were chosen as a host city.

One must ask, how can the 2016 Olympic Games be a successful Olympics if the host city's mayor wished they were never selected? Above is a photo from the Telegraph of 300,000 protesters. What could 10% of that figure, or say 30,000 protesters, do to cause trouble at the Olympics?

Here is a link to a photo gallery of "fire fights" between the Brazilian Army and the citizens of Brazil.

The population of Rio de Janeiro is more than unhappy with the Olympic Games right now. An astounding 1-million people have protested and rioted over hosting both the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. In fact FIFA has offered apologies to the citizens the Citizens of Rio and now so has the Mayor.

Brazilians are demanding clean drinking water, sewage services,  better bus service, and schools rather than soccer stadiums Olympic arenas. The rhetoric from protesters is not just anger but is calling these Olympic Games a human rights violation.

Mayor Eduardo Paes' exact quote form the Telegraph was both a  shock and warning to future cities with emerging economies who may want to host an Olympic Games: "..."It is a shame that Brazil is hosting the Olympic Games... We must handle the legacy of the Olympics in the city"... Rio will have to look after the legacy of infrastructure but it's unclear who will run the sports centres after the Olympics. ..."
From the Telegraph:

Demonstrations have continued in recent months in Rio de Janeiro as angry residents accuse state Governor Sergio Cabral of corruption and demand an inquiry into spending on projects associated with the staging of World Cup and Olympic Games. 

The IOC has screwed up, and screwed up so badly. These Olympics may become a complete fiasco and all it is going to take is a 1-million-man/mom march to bring the games to their knees.

Is it time for the International Olympic Committee to back out of Brazil and and go with a Plan-B say like London, Bejing or do it on the cheap in Los Angeles?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How the International Olympic Committee avoided standing up to the Nazis in 1933 and Vladimir Putin in 2013

It was 1933 and Adolph Hitler had finally locked himself into place as the dictator of Nazi Germany. First on his agenda was the Olympic games. Hitler was looking forward to using the 1936 games as a vehicle for international stardom.

Supposedly unimpressed by Hitler's anti-Semite rhetoric then President of the American Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, briefly stood up and declared "The very foundation of the modern Olympic revival will be undermined if individual countries are allowed to restrict participation by reason of class, creed, or race." He was obviously referring to the Jews.

On face value Brundage delivered a very noble comment that was well reasoned and forward thinking for its day but just two years later Brundage changed his mind.  After touring Germany in 1935 he confidently stated: "... I was given positive assurance in writing ... that there will be no discrimination against Jews. You can't ask more than that and I think the guarantee will be fulfilled."

This was an odd statement for Brundage to utter for the political situation in Germany was becoming quite dire for the Jewish population.

One must understand how bad it was for Jews in Nazi Germany circa 1935 to become totally confused why Brundage flip-flopped. Laws were passed that year that mandated that Jews were not considered German citizens anymore. Jews could not marry nor have intercourse with German citizens. Jews could not be a part of civic life and in secret the Gestapo set into a motion a plan to "remedy" the "Jewish problem." This remedy involved releasing waves of violence and muggings to intimidate the Jewish populace. But then it got worse.

In the Fall of 1935 the seeds for the unthinkable were planted. The first mention of Hitler's "Final Solution" or that "solution designed to execute Jews, gays, and the disabled was openly stated. Speaking for Hitler at the Reichstag in Nuremberg, Hermann Göring, dropped this bomb: "if Legislative law can't handle the "Jewish problem" a Final Solution may be needed."

Despite the facts of overwhelming Jewish suppression Brundage wouldn't recant or go back to defending the disenfranchised Jews. Rather he went all in with Nazi Germany and according to the The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "...Brundage alleged the existence of a "Jewish-Communist conspiracy" to keep the United States out of the [Olympic] Games." He also wrote in an American Olympic Committee pamphlet called Fair Play for American Athletes that "American athletes should not become involved in the present "Jew-Nazi altercation." - Similar rhetoric to what we are hearing now regarding the 2014 Sochi, Russia Games.

We did go to the 1936 Olympics and Jesse Owens became an American hero somewhat upstaging Adolph Hitler, however, Hitler did make his point that Germany was once again a world power. But back to Brundage: Last year the New York Daily News published an article regarding a PBS documentary about Jesse Owens which openly stated that Avery Brundage had officially become both a Nazi sympathizer and an anti-Semite. It's hard to believe that the IOC did not recognize this yet they elected him in 1952 as the IOC President a position he held for 20-years.

From the New York Daily News - Article title: Victories for Jesse Owens at 1936 Olympics were just the start of the hurdles he faced
"...As an Olympian he was under the authority of U.S. Olympic Committee chief Avery Brundage, who admired Hitler and infamously replaced two Jewish sprinters on the 4-by-100 relay team because it could have further embarrassed Hitler if they won. 

Today's IOC endorsement of Vladimir Putin's anti-gay law is making Putin's gay prejudice politically acceptable at both the political and athletic level in Russia. Consequently this has severely damaged the Olympic movement for it has never occurred in Olympic movement history that artists, actors, athletes and performers are speaking ill of the Olympics. Especially the ones that are gay.

The Russian anti-gay law makes it punishable by jail and a hefty fine to state that "homosexualism" is a behavioral or genetic variation. You may not mention that you are gay and if you promote it whatsoever such as kissing in public, flying a rainbow flag, or placing a bumper sticker on your car you will be fined and jailed. Moreover, you may not tell anyone that you are gay. You may not say that you're are tolerant of gay behavior or that gays are just as equal as anybody else.

These Russian laws rhyme with those laws of Nazi Germany circa 1933. The IOC knows this but this time they are not only siding with the Russian law, they will help implement them as well.

When an IOC official was asked by the Gay Star News what they will do if an athlete brings up their sexual orientation, the paraphrased reply went as follows: "... The games [are] not the place for ‘political’ statements. Any participant who steps out of line may be punished, not by the Russians but by Olympic chiefs themselves."

This leads me to point number six of the IOC mission statement reads:
• To act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement
Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people on the grounds of race, age, or sex.  The line is unarguably clear, the gay minority officially qualifies as a victim as a victim of anti-gay Russian laws and IOC prejudice. Consequently, the IOC has completely failed its mission statement. They failed to apply their own credo as a de facto guideline for selecting a proper host city. They are failing to assure that they will protect the athletes and the spectators as well.

Should the Sochi games be boycotted? No, they should not. But the IOC Should be called out for prejudice, greed, and incompetence for choosing cities that could not promise athlete and spectator safety and/or the appreciation of human rights charter.

It is my hope that dozens of Athletes make a statement and make it an issue there. I am starting to see images pop up of athletes making public demonstrations that are extraordinarily promising. I am hoping that the IOC is forced to apologize and take responsibility for endorsing prejudice and emotional harm to the public it serves. Namely the athletes and the spectators.

Sochi, Russia was picked as a host city in 2007 for the 2014 games. The IOC could have picked Pyeongchang, South Korea (Home of Samsung and Gangnam Style) and curious enough South Korea had originally beat out both Salzburg, Austria and Sochi, Russia in the first round of voting but a slim majority favored Sochi, Russia in the second round. Ironically enough Pyeongchang, South Korea was chosen for the 2018 Winter Games.

As for the 2016 Olympic Games, which are not looking too promising due to the negative mood of the public who rioted over Olympic infrastructure spending versus public infrastructure needs, the IOC chose Rio over both Chicago, Illinois and Tokyo, Japan thereby choosing second-world countries over first-world candidates.

Arguably the reason why Rio de Janeiro was chosen over Chicago was due to a petty monetary squabble with the USOC. (The USOC was flirting with starting an Olympic cable channel which the IOC was not happy about) Consequently IOC greed and possible prejudice may have gavin the Games to two countries that were not ready for prime time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The IOC and the Olympic movement is possibly looking at two failed Olympic Games

(UPDATE to add some statistics and to tighten up my grammar.)

In two weeks from today a team of IOC inspectors and two IOC Presidential candidates are to land in Brazil and take a look around.

What makes this trip so eventful is that the head of the Rio Olympic Public Authority, that agency which is coordinating the building of the Rio Games infrastructure, just resigned today with no reason given for his departure.

It is not the first time there has been a management shake-ups within the Brazilian Olympic Committee (BOC) ranks. According to the Los Angeles Times the BOC has burned through two chief executives, three operation officers, and four marketing directors in just three-years. This turnover illustrates that these former executives either had no confidence in the BOC or that they were fired or resigned due to malfeasance or severe incompetence.

The Rio Games has not been a smooth development project for Brazil - it is now predicted that a cost overrun approaching three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollars is in the works yet nothing has been officially put on paper to prove that this number is accurate or not.

One could argue that the Olympic Games has a "track record" of going over budget and consistently plagued by construction delays. That history has proven that Olympic venues do meet their deadlines and the Games go on as usual, so why should Brazil be any different?

Well, Brazil is different for when tens-of-thousands of rioters take to the streets to protest the construction of the Olympic Game venues, that's not a disgruntled group of outsiders but rather a disgruntled population.

These riots, as stated in an USC Annenberg Business School blog, are due to this prominent theme: "...Brazilians don’t want first-world stadiums with third-world schools [and] third-world hospitals. ..." The blog post goes on to say they want this money spent on basic public infrastructure only. What drove the citizens to the streets was not just the Olympic Games but the Games were just the "final straw."

Next year Brazil will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup of Soccer and this endeavor continues to be an extraordinarily expensive event. Six-stadiums have been built but five-new-stadiums are behind schedule and time is running out at a cost of $3.6-billion dollars.

Even FIFA, the governing body of Soccer has openly stated that Rio may have been a wrong choice to hold a FIFA World Cup. This was stated after riots erupted in one of Rio de Janeiro's main tourist areas just days before a visit by the Pope last July.

Will Brazil be able to deliver a safe, polished, Olympic Games or will infrastructure issues, poverty issues and a disgruntled population brand the Olympics as a "traveling circus" that exploits the poor and enriches only the politicians, contractors and the IOC itself?

With the Brazilian poverty level at about 33%-of-the-population and water quality in the impoverished areas grossly contaminated by sewage, one must realize that the cost of one soccer stadium could have built a water reclamation plant that could have service millions instead of thousands of soccer fans for a few short weeks. This errant use of funds borders upon a human rights issue rather than a sporting one and that brings us to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Russia has passed an anti-homosexuality law that is so stringent in nature that any individual or visiting athlete that admits or mentions that they are gay or lesbian will be arrested. One Russian politician has gone as far to declare that gays should be barred from donating blood, donating organs and that their donated hearts and bodies should be burned instead of being buried in the ground.

Buoyed by such sanctioned hatred by the upper echelons of Russian politicians, teams of neo-nazi thugs have have been kidnapping, torturing and beating up gays for amusement and posting videos of their "work" on video network channels.

The IOC has responded with a declaration of support for the Russian law stating that: "...The Olympics aren’t the place for “proactive political or religious demonstration.” AS Slate Magazine points out - who knew that holding hands or telling someone you're gay if is considered a propaganda or a political demonstration?

Advertisers for the Sochi Games don't seem to care about these laws and have no intention of pulling out either for there is just too much money to be made.

McDonalds and Coca-Cola and going in large and Buzz Feed explains why:

From Buzz Feed
"... Both companies have also made bullish bets on Russia’s rapidly expanding consumer market. Coca-Cola is two years into doubling its investment in Russia through a five-year, $3 billion plan. McDonald’s announced plans in February to add 150 more restaurants across Russia in the next three years, an increase of about 50%. ..."


I was curious as to why Coca-Cola was getting a "Free-Gay-Pass" on this subject and I discovered that Coca-Cola received a perfect 100-percent score from a lobby group that advocates for gay and lesbian rights called the Human Rights Campaign. (The award was given out in 2008.) Amazing what money can buy. You can buy both sides of an issue and anger nobody all at the same time because thye have been paid not to care. Reminds me of an old quote by a California politician: "Every man can be bought... and if you can show me a man that can't be bought, well, he can be leased."

With all jokes aside, the IOC is still going to have to justify and address each blood stained $100-bill they accept as to why the impoverished Brazilians, and the disenfranchised Russian gays, Lesbians, and transgendered are secondary to profit, morals, and free speech for the next two Olympics in a row.

This is a blatant execution failure of their mission statement or to be more specific it violates their credo to: "To act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement."

But do they really care; I mean really?

In hindsight there were two nations that campaigned for the the 2014 and 2016 Games and both were much better suited to handle the infrastructure and moral responsibilities required to conduct an Olympic games. For the 2014 Games it was South Korea. For the 2016 Games it was Chicago. Both first world countries with the ability to host these events but petty politics within the IOC denied Chicago and poor planning denied South Korea.

The IOC has set themselves up for for two spectacular "fails" and they only have themselves to blame.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Nar Geo: Why Science Can't keep up with Sports Doping

Those that get away with doping are seemingly just as sophisticated as the testers. Take Lance Armstrong as an example:

From National Geographic online:

Athletes have, along the way, figured out how to beat tests. The most high-profile case may be that of Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France. Earlier this year he admitted that throughout much of his competitive career, he doped strategically to avoid testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Rather than inject EPO moments before a race--where he knew that testers would be waiting at the finish line--the cyclist scheduled doping during training rides and between races. Working with a group of physicians, some of whom may still face prosecution by federal investigators, Armstrong was also able to keep track of when certain substances would appear in his system and how quickly they would metabolize. 

I walked away from the article thinking that those sophisticated to pass tests via timing, off-label, or non-existent usage of some forgotten steroid is mostly done by those that have the most money to gain.

Is swimming clean, NO WAY! But I will say that the majority of swimmers in the United States don' have the income or the infrastructure to finance a medical team of dirty doctors, dirty coaches, and "bag men" to pull it off. Must or all will get caught.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

USA DQ-ed: France wins 4x100m medley relay gold as US disqualified

A very unprofessional mistake at that level. Hmmm, do you blame the coach for the lack of coached drilling or the swimmer[s]?

US Track and Field has a long history of this sort of nonsense.

From France 24

The Americans touched first in three minutes 30.06 seconds before the stadium announcer said they had been disqualified "for an early exchange". France clocked a time of 3:31.51 to take gold, with Australia winning silver in 3:31.64 and Japan bronze in 3:32.26. 
The Americans were denied what would have been a 12th triumph in the event in 15 championships since the inaugural edition in Belgrade in 1973. 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Has Ryan Lochte become nothing short of "Honey Boo boo in a speedo?"

That is what a reader asked me. In other words has Ryan Lochte become a "child spectacle" rather than a serious brand? How do I answer this dear reader?

Please comment.

Friday, August 02, 2013

USA Swimming Leaked Document - USA Swimming is budgeting $100k - $200 to help clubs with their PR when sued for sexual abuse!

I want to thank the whistle blower who leaked this document. They must remain anonymous because from what I have observed USA Swimming has a penchant for punishing people who speak out.

An internal document was leaked to me by said whistle-blower that came straight out of Bruce Stratton and the Executive Director of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus' office. The document is titled: Update Safe Sport Action Plan.

This document is summarily outrageous. In fact it's quite Orwellian with it's language.  When an internal document from USA Swimming is issued that contains the words "Safe Sport" and "Action plan" one presumes the documents sole focus will be about protecting victims. Sadly this document is NOT about protecting victims but rather it is about protecting the assailants and the USA Swimming organization ONLY! - In one section it discussed how Chuck Wielgus and another executive will undergo extensive media training and then cherry pick which sports-media outlets to convey USA Swimming's message to. Wielgus will also start a blog which should be a lot of fun but I wonder if Chuck, or the public relations firm they have just hired, Ground Floor Media will write it?

For instance, as the screenshot states above, USA Swimming is going to budget $100-to-$200k on "public relations." That means if a club is sued, USA Swimming is going to send in a PR team summarily paid six-figures worth of member donated money to protect the club but NOT the victim! Not one thin dime is designated to go towards counseling of a victim or victims, or crisis support but rather it is designated to protect coaches and clubs rather than the dues paying members. 

Now imagine if your son or daughter is the victim of a sexual molestation and USA Swimming suddenly brings in a heavily financed PR team to lessen your tragedy in the public eye or, if you read between the lines, vilify your son or daughter so as to make you go away.

Finally, let me zero in on the Orwellian factor: Paragraph one states that the Public Relations help is for LSCs only. Then in the second paragraph the rhetoric suddenly changes stating that the money will go towards USA Swimming's Safe Sport program and (get this) the victims too by giving the LSC or the coach that is being sued PR help. Tell me how this helps the victim.

To the members of USA Swimming, ask Bruce Stratton and the Executive Director of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus, to resign for promoting such an abortion of a child protection policy.