U.S. Gov’t Investigating Sexual Abuse Within Sports, Including USA Swimming

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 Nassara 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 Hincheymostly 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.”

You can see the committee’s full announcement of the investigation here.

You can read the full letter to USA Swimming here.

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In corporate America the first priority in sexual harassment and abuse cases is protecting the corporation. This often results in a guilty employee being given the opportunity to quietly resign with no record of their abuse. The predator is now free to continue their behavior at their next place of employment. This happens at colleges, high schools and swim clubs as well. The only way to reduce this behavior is increase institutional accountability.


Add to this, officials and coaches having “plausible deniability” to issues that may arise or be reported. This allows them to seemingly protect themselves.

There are swim coaches from large and well-known clubs that have plausible deniability about th behaviors of others within their organizations. This is also what happened with USAS and the Rick Curl scenario: while everyone “knew” of this for decades, including such people as Schubert and the top USAS brass, they said it wa all hearsay or that they didn’t personally witness, so they “didn’t know.”

When top coaches and officials ar held accountable for everyone (and themselves) in their organizations, maybe we can see a bette future.

Steve Nolan

That’s even if the corporation / school goes that far to make the employee resign – just look at the “investigations” done by MSU that cleared Nassar. There should be investigations into those investigations, to be sure.


Further why are institutions doing the investigations, criminal behavior should be referred to police officials…ALWAYS.

It’s worth injecting into this conversation that in the case of the alleged sexual assault by Michigan State basketball players, police did investigate, they passed their findings on to the district attorney, and she chose not to press charges either (according to the alleged victim). I can also tell you that there are multiple individuals permanently suspended by USA Swimming who have no criminal convictions. Among reasons that this can happen: because statutes of limitations have passed, because the burden of proof for a criminal complaint wasn’t met, or because in some cases, USA Swimming’s rules are different than the laws. Which doesn’t belie the point – police should ALWAYS be contacted. But, I’m not sure I’d agree with the… Read more »


Agree just don’t understand how they held onto it for long.


A lot of police agencies are just as narrow-minded and oblivious to what constitutes criminal behavior. They are no better than USA Swimming and these other institutions. Most of these agencies (including the police) only act when the media publishes a story. I was once told by a City Attorney that cops don’t know the laws they do what they want and then its up to the CA/DA to charge an individual. The problem is that the police decide if a report goes to the CA/DA and the CA/DA cannot do anything unless they receive a report from the police. When the police REFUSE to take a report or decide not to forward the report nothing happens. Then there are… Read more »


What about AAU Basketball, Federation Baseball, Youth Football. First this is not sexual abuse its Pedophilia, where adults use institutions to build trust in parents in order to abuse children where the pedofile justifies his actions. If they are going to do something to protect kids, parents need to stop trusting people alone with their kids for success in sports at all cost.

Swimmer girl

There were parents in the office with the doctor and the athlete. Culpable, and yes, I agree, fueled by success at sport at any cost.


You don’t know the definition of pedophilia.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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