A bipartisan Congressional committee is investigating sexual abuse allegations within organized sports, including USA Swimming. The committee sent letters to five key institutions this week announcing the investigation: USA Swimming, USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Taekwondo.
The investigation comes on the heels of the high-profile sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, a doctor who will spend the rest of his life in prison after admitting to sexually abusing athletes under the guise of medical treatment. The targets of the investigation has clear ties to Nassar, who was the team doctor for the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team and worked with athletes at Michigan State University Sports Medicine. At least one swimmer was also among the alleged victims to testify at Nassar’s hearing.
The committee sent a list of questions to USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey, mostly revolving around allegations from 2014 when 19 swimmers came forward saying they were sexually abused by coaches, but also asking about USA Swimming’s current policies for handling allegations of sexual abuse by members.
USA Swimming recently responded to the Nassar case with a memo about creating a safe culture. The swimming federation has continued to expand its Safe Sport program, aimed at preventing abuse and safeguarding the well-being of USA Swimming members.
Former USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus took heavy criticism late in his term as executive for how the federation handled sexual abuse allegations in his tenure. We asked Hinchey, who took over as CEO in June, for comment on that criticism of his predecessor and USA Swimming as a whole. At the time, Hinchey said he was still getting up to speed on the specifics of the Safe Sport program. We’ve since asked him for more updated comment on the federation’s history with sexual abuse allegations, but he has not been available for interview.
USA Swimming did release the following statement about the current investigation:
“We are reviewing the oversight request from The House Committee on Energy and Commerce and will provide an informed response in a timely manner.”