The Royal Dutch Swimming Federation (KNZB) has launched an investigation into the conduct of coach Mark Faber as a number of swimmers have raised complaints against the leader of the country’s Olympic program.
Multiple European outlets have reported that a confidential letter was sent by KNZB Director Aschwin Lankwarden to swimmers, detailing allegations of misconduct against Faber that were described as “signals of dissatisfaction with elements of unacceptable behavior.”
The KNZB has submitted the allegations to the Dutch Center for SafeSport, Centrum Veilige Sport Nederland. The number of swimmers raising complaints against Faber is unknown, though it has been described as a “significant” number and at least five have been confirmed to have filed a complaint according to BNN Network.
Allegations against Faber include abuse of power, bullying and intimidation. Specific instances include him telling a young swimmer they were “too fat” and responding to criticism by clapping back at his athletes and telling them: “Know their place.”
Faber, 50, made a name for himself as the head coach of Dutch breaststroke star Arno Kamminga, who broke out with two silver medals in the men’s 100 and 200 breast at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
Shortly after the Games, Faber was named Dutch national head coach in the lead-up to Paris 2024, adding on to the role he already held as the leader of the High Performance Center (HPC) Amsterdam.
In addition to Kamminga, Faber is also the current head coach of Tes Schouten, who has steadily risen to the top of the heap in women’s breaststroke, winning a bronze medal at the 2023 World Championships in the women’s 200 breast and sweeping the event at last month’s World Cup series.
Faber has said he will fully cooperate with the investigation.
Part of Faber’s statement (via translation) courtesy of NOS:
“In a general sense, I would like to indicate that I find it particularly annoying that athletes have experienced dissatisfaction. In my position as KNZB head coach, I have always had the intention to let the search for (sporting) boundaries go hand in hand with pleasure in the sport. That is a search for the right balance that you have to do together. In consultation with colleagues, I strove for a positive performance climate. Every athlete who has not experienced that is one too many.
“If the research shows that athletes, at the time or afterwards, did not feel comfortable with this, I am very sorry. Of course, that was never my intention. I am always willing to enter into discussions and will do everything I can to to eliminate feelings of dissatisfaction and help to further improve the performance climate.”
Faber is reportedly still a part of the Dutch coaching staff for the 2023 European Short Course Championships despite the ongoing investigation.
The 20-member Dutch squad features a number of Faber’s swimmers from the Amsterdam HPC, including Kamminga and Schouten, with athletes from the other HPC in Eindhoven—led by coach Patrick Pearson—focusing on the 2024 LC Worlds in Doha, according to the KNZB.