British Swimming Coach Created 'Climate Of Fear,' Investigation Reveals
British Swimming apologized to athletes after an investigation revealed its former Paralympic coach presided over a "climate of fear" and used "derogatory terms about para-swimmers," according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. Rob Greenwood, who left British Swimming this year, was named U.K. high performance coach of the year after Britain won 47 swimming medals at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Complaints about his conduct were made to the governing body after the Games, and the results of an independent investigation which confirm the validity of the complaints have been published. It is the latest in a series of "duty of care" scandals to have "rocked British elite sport." British Swimming did not identify Greenwood but sources confirmed that he is the former member of staff involved (LONDON TIMES, 10/12). In London, Martha Kelner reported the situation was deemed "so serious that a group of affected athletes, which includes Paralympic champions," were offered complimentary psychotherapy sessions if they required help "coping with the trauma of the abuse and subsequent investigations." British Swimming National Performance Dir Chris Furber also "faced internal disciplinary action," although this is in regard to management failings and a "lack of empathy" toward athletes. He is not accused of abuse or discrimination. A source close to the investigation said that in terms of scale, it was the "most grave of a growing list of athlete-welfare scandals" and again "calls into question the no-compromise model which dictates Olympic and Paralympic sport" in the U.K. (GUARDIAN, 10/12).
'BELITTLED AND CRITICISED': Also in London, Ben Rumsby reported the "potential scale of the problem was laid bare this summer" when it was revealed that "at least 11 of the 28 national governing bodies" in receipt of £361.5M of public money in the build-up to the Rio and PyeongChang Games "received complaints from athletes" or have been "forced to review their policies -- or both -- since being awarded their share of that cash." British Swimming did not disclose the precise nature of the offenses that the independent investigation it commissioned found had been committed. However, a report in March, in which allegations against a coach were first aired publicly, quoted a parent of one of the complainants claiming disabled swimmers had been "belittled and criticised." The parent added, "We were told elite sport was not about the welfare of athletes but the pursuit of medals. There was a culture of fear" (TELEGRAPH, 10/12). The BBC's Dan Roan reported Greenwood left his job before the investigation began, and it is "not known whether he disputes the allegations." When contacted, he declined to comment. One of the athletes who represented ParalympicsGB in Rio and made a complaint said, "It's good that it has now been recognized, but it also feels as if nothing has really happened. I don't have much confidence things will really change." She added that she saw athletes being "screamed at" and "verbally abused and bullied" and "swimmers broken-hearted, crying their eyes out, and completely destroyed as a result of what had been said to them" (BBC, 10/12).