Last week, the U.S. Center for SafeSport brieflylisted a 13-year-old USA Swimming athlete member in its database of banned individuals. It has since removed the child’s name, but would not reveal whether the swimmer remains suspended.
The SafeSport database collects the names of individuals banned from membership and participation in Olympic sports in the United States. The list includes nearly 200 names tagged with “swimming” as their sport, many of them coaches banned for abusing athletes. The Center took over as the sole authority in investigating allegations of misconduct among members of Olympic sporting federations, and sole jurisdiction in handing out bans and suspensions.
- U.S. Center for SafeSport: Understanding the New Structure of SafeSport
- Digging in on SafeSport’s Investigative Process, Ban Terminology
- U.S. Center for SafeSport Updates Code, Clarifies Confidentiality on Decisions
We track the list regularly and report on new additions. Last week, we asked the Center about the addition of several new names, among them, a 13-year-old who appears in USA Swimming’s SWIMS database as an athlete. The athlete was listed as “suspended” in the SafeSport database. The Center responded, saying that it does not publish the names of minors in the database, and called the athlete’s inclusion an “oversight.”
We asked for clarification on whether the athlete was indeed suspended, or whether the only oversight was listing their name publicly. The Center merely directed us to its policy of not commenting on specific matters or cases to preserve privacy.
When we asked whether 13-year-olds could be banned or suspended by the Center, we were told that “the SafeSport Code applies to all Participants in the Movements” and that any minor athlete given a sanction would not be listed in the SafeSport database, but would be shared with the national governing body (in this case USA Swimming) for enforcement purposes.
We have asked if minor suspended or banned athletes would be added to the public database upon turning 18, and will update when we receive clarification.
While most tend to connect the Center to sexual abuse cases, the Center can sanction individuals for any violations of the SafeSport Code: that includes a wide range of rules from sexual abuse to bullying to emotional or physical misconduct to failing to report misconduct to being the subject of a criminal charge.
This isn’t the first time a minor’s name has appeared in the database. A 12-year-old swimmer’s name was added to the database and later removed; we were told that he should never have been put in the database.