Like most sports, swimming isn’t free of scandals. And it’s no surprise that three themes appear over and over.
Sex. Drugs. Money.
While most of the sports scandals that we hear about are on an Olympic level, many of these also apply to club, collegiate, high school, or even children’s teams. So if you notice anything suspicious about your neighborhood or school swim team, it can’t hurt to report it or investigate it further.
Many call the USA Swimming Sex Abuse fiasco the worst in the history of sports scandals. I have to say, after reading about it, I agree. And you will too!
For decades, swim coaches have been taking advantage of young female swimmers. Teenage girls who are caught on the wrong end of a power trip. And it’s hard to catch the real culprits when there’s almost no proof or witnesses.
There continue to be allegations of sexual abuse on swim teams of all levels, and the government is finally ready to do something about it after three years of denial.
In response, USA Swimming created Safe Sport, an “enhanced sex abuse prevention program”, with stricter rules, training and education for young swimmers, and an emphasis on reporting any suspicious actions or harassment.
It seems to be working okay, so far. In the past 3 years, 34 coaches have been banned for sexual harassment. Hopefully in the future Safe Sport won’t be necessary. But in the meantime, let’s make sure it keeps doing its job and keeps all of our swimmers safe!
DrugsDrugs and steroids are an issue in every professional sports arena, and the pool’s no different!
As technology continues to evolve, athletes are finding creative ways to inject performance-enhancing steroids and hormones. Some commonly used are Human Growth Hormone, EPO, Anabolic steroids, and Testosterone.
It’s always suspicious when swimmers improve their times by seconds, when female swimmers are faster than male champions, and when an Olympic team goes from winning no medals to winning multiple golds the next time.
There have been investigations of the German, Irish, and Chinese teams as well as personal swimmers. In some cases, the coaches doped their swimmers secretly, while in others it was the swimmers’ idea.
There are recent questionable cases too, such as 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, who suddenly could swim faster than Ryan Lochte in the 2012 London Olympics. Her drug tests have all been negative, so there’s no proof of any foul play yet.
But have athletes just gotten smarter about the way they go about doping up? Can officials keep up with all the new drugs and ways to test clean?
Not as common as either sex abuse or doping, money has played a role in swimming scandals too.
Although it’s rare that someone “throws” a swim meet, or bets millions of dollars on a race, money often acts as an incentive for smaller acts of dishonesty.
And the better their teams do, the cushier their jobs become. They’re higher in demand as coaches, less likely to be fired, and even get raises.
Swimmers also can be motivated by money, in the form of endorsements. Below a professional level, most athletes cannot legally accept gifts or payments for anything swim-related and still be allowed to swim for high school or college teams.
It’s important to keep a clean record and not accept any endorsements or bribes from third parties, because if officials find out then that swimmer will be disqualified from competition!
Which is worse? Sex abuse, secretly drugging someone, or bribery? What are the worst sports scandals you know of?