As reported by Spiegel, Kurschilgen allegedly knew about the sexual violence allegations levied against former German open water national coach Stefan Lurz. Lurz resigned last week following multiple allegations of sexual assault, psychological manipulation, and bullying.
This included an instance in 2017 when Lurz allegedly invited a swimmer to his hotel room one evening and escalated the situation into sexual assault. SPIEGEL spoke with five of Lurz’s former swimmers, anonymously. One detailed being forced to kiss him at the age of 15. Others provided text messages where he rated their body on a scale from 1 to 10, once writing “today before training you were soooo sexy.” Lurz denies these allegations.
The Spiegel report says that an email a swimmer wrote to Kurschilgen in March 2019 described an alleged sexual assault incident in detail, as well as naming other swimmers who were also harrassed by Lurz. Kurschilgen reportedly did not follow-up on this letter.
Kurschilgen’s release from his post as National Sports Director has yet to be confirmed by the DSV. However, on the homepage of the DSV, athlete representatives Sarah Köhler and Tobias Preuss conveyed the following:
Any form of violence and abuse of power has no place in any social class, in any position or anywhere else in our society or in our association. Especially when dealing with children and minors, such behavior is particularly reprehensible, immoral, unethical and condemned in the strongest possible way. We therefore demand, on behalf of all those involved, a full and independent investigation of any suspicions on the part of the judiciary and the DSV.
At the same time, as the voice of the athlete, we would like to encourage all those who, today or in the past, have felt exposed to violence, abuse of power or the crossing of boundaries to defend themselves. Each and every individual has the right to privacy and it is up to you to talk about it and to stand up for your rights and your protection. You can turn to friends, family or even directly and anonymously to specialized agencies who can give you exactly the help you need. There is a system around you that can protect you directly and also helps you to process and come to terms with the things you have experienced. Silence protects the wrong people!
With your courage you also protect other athletes and help uncover incidents, because cases can only be solved if they and the facts are known. We therefore encourage and ask you to contact the DSV or a neutral advice center, provided you have information or tips that can help clarify a case. The contact person in the DSV is Franka Weber ( [email protected] ) in her role as prevention officer for sexualised violence. The federal government also has a free and anonymous help line, all information can be found here .
Do not be afraid that this could put you at a disadvantage in your career or in whatever form – it is not. As athletes, we have to be role models and we mustn’t give sexual violence a chance in our association!