The first two-page letter is signed by the same 5 presidents, including current president Bruce Stratton. The group made a briefer statement on Thursday and in the longer version still does not address sexual abuse with any specificity. It addresses 6 specific areas where they feel that Wielgus has been successful in his tenure as CEO: leadership, respect, compassion, openness, as a bridge builder, and with personal accountability. They also refer to the petition as having “missed the mark” and that it “recklessly misrepresented” Wielgus.
The attached 4-page rebuttal, being listed as USA Swimming’s response, does specifically address the matters brought forth in the petition. That includes a comparison of the Safe Sport program in USA Swimming to those in other National Governing Bodies; a specific rebuttal to the handling of the cases of 6 banned coaches (including Rick Curl, Mitch Ivey, Andy King, and Everett Uchiyama); an explanation of USA Swimming’s opposition to SB 131 (LINK); and a response to several other of the accusations in the petition.
The 7-page document concludes with Wielgus’ personal response. In that response, like in USA Swimming’s 4-page response he does also address some of the points that was made in the WSF’s petition and ensuing comments from foundation advocate Nancy Hogshead-Makar.
That includes a response to the accusation that USA Swimming has only responded because they’ve been forced to.
“While I always try to be better each day, I know in my heart that pressure has made us better, whether from the media, victims, or victim’s advocates,” Wielgus reflected. “I pride myself and this organization on being able to listen and learn.”
Wielgus also personally issued an apology, something that he was criticized by the WSF for not doing.
“I will be the first to admit that I wish I would have expressed my feelings better to share how truly sorry I am personally, and we all are as a sport, that sexual abuse by a coach could happen to any young person.”
Wielgus does not address the specific call for him to withdraw from the Hall of Fame class of 2014.
Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com.
He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming.
Aside from his life on the InterWet, …