Gunderson Health has released its full 125-page report based upon its review of the USA Swimming SafeSport program, and general athlete protections.
During a conference call with media after the release of the executive summary, but before the release of the full report, Vieth gave for primary points of emphasis among his 39 recommendations.
The first is that all forms of abuse should be reportable, and all members should be mandated reporters of abuse.
SwimSwam analysis This will prevent some of the instances like Rick Curl, where everyone knew, but some how the formal reporting process seems to have slipped through the cracks.
The second is that USA Swimming should routinely admit reliable hearsay evidence if the victim does not want to be a part of the hearing process.
SwimSwam analysis: If adopted by USA Swimming, this would be a huge point in favor of getting coaches banned sooner, as a reluctance to participate in the process, as we saw in the case of Mitch Ivey’s alleged victim Suzette Moran, can often delay or negate any USA Swimming’s proceedings.
That particular recommendation would have to pass through USA Swimming’s legal team, of course, to determine if under current state and federal laws, as well as if they abide by current USA Swimming bylaws, or if those bylaws need to be amended.
The third point made by Vieth was that USA Swimming conduct a “baseline anonymous study” in which they ask athletes about abuse, so that USA Swimming can learn how many potential cases could be out there that they don’t know about.
SwimSwam analysis: Typically, these anonymous sorts of surveys on sensitive topics reveal astonishing results. Think about the one done by the international track & field governing body on doping in their sport. This one could be key to seeing how many people were abused, or feel they were abused, by a swim coach. If this one were to include a request for anonymous statistics on psychological abuse, that could be trickier for “self reporting” biases, as are most psychological matters.
The 4th main point made by Vieth in the teleconference is that USA Swimming should create a “victim assistance fund” for those sexually abused by a coach, no matter the age of the victim or the age of the abuse. Vieth said that what he found is that when they spoke with victims through the process, the “voice of the survivors was heard the loudest” by the review team. He says that realized that there are many victims who never had the resources to seek help for their abuses and to cope with those abuses.
SwimSwam analysis: This is not a fund that is to supersede any litigation, civil suits, or civil settlements in complaints against USA Swimming. This would be a fund to support the psychological care for victims once health insurance benefits or other available assistance has run out.
More to come.