According to a report by the New York Times, two USA-Swimming officials have filed an official Complaint with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) claiming that they have been unfairly treated since speaking out against the treatment of sexual abuse cases by swimming’s governing body in the US.
Ken Stopkotte, a coach in Indiana, and Michael Saltzstein, a high-ranking meet official, registered the complaint. In addition to claiming that they were retaliated against, both men claim that they were denied hearings that are supposed to be assured to them by the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.
Saltzstein was a stroke-and-turn judge at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and after being inspired by girl who reported the sexual abuse by coach Andy King that led to a 40-year prison sentence decided to write a letter to several important USA-Swimming officials outlining his proposal for a six-point plan to help curtail these abuses.
Less than a week later, he claims to have received an email from Pat Lunsford, the USA-Swimming VP for operations, stating that the organization was not renominating him to FINA to work international meets.
Jamie Olsen, a USA Swimming spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to the NYT that, “I’m told by Pat Lunsford that the reason Mike was not nominated was because in the last quad he’s only applied to work ONE meet.” Saltzstein’s reply was that meets had been assigned by Lunsford, not applied for, which he backed up with a list of meet assignments that seem to indicate having worked much more than 1 meet in the period.
Stopkotte is a very well-respected coach in the midwest and includes on his resume stops at the famed Carmel, Indiana swim Club and with the Cincinnati Marlins, where he worked with superstar swimmers like Joe Hudepohl and Nate Dusing. He has now started his own club in Indiana: the Fishers Area Swim Team.
Stopkotte, who was interviewed as part of the now infamous 20/20 spot, was originally selected to help coach an Indiana Swimming All-star squad, sanctioned by USA-Swimming, based on his performance that includes coaching two members on the team. He has since been deemed ineligible, after the ABC interview aired.
Stopkotte was also listed as a witness by the Plaintiff in the lawsuit against USA-Swimming, alleging that they have not done enough to prevent sexual abuse. He claims that after this revelation, he faced charges of falsifying swimmers’ results, and faces an indefinite suspension from coaching.
USA-Swimming had little comment on the complaint, beyond acknowledging its existence.
Although it is fruitless to speculate on this case, as there are surely many more details to come out, the allegations will do nothing to help the reputation that USA-Swimming is developing with many pundits as a back-room “old boys club”, which started during the swim-suit drama, and has continued into the sexual abuse cases. This is definitely a situation to keep an eye on.