As USA Swimming prepares to discuss a new plan to deal with a rash of sexual abuse cases, a former official said the governing body has dragged its feet for years and is not doing enough to prevent coaches from having improper contact with athletes. Mike Saltzstein, a vice-president at the organisation from 2000 to 2006 and a member for three decades, sent a letter in mid-April recommending what he said are six decisive steps to deal with a culture that makes it easier for abuses to occur.
Saltzstein said on Friday that the seven-point USA Swimming plan unveiled last week does not really address the problem. "I came up with what I think are six pretty easy, pretty quick action steps that show some real action," Saltzstein said in a telephone interview. "The seven they sent out, well, there's just no action to be found in there." Among his proposals include a mandate that two adults must be on hand for any interaction with a single youth swimmer.
Last month, Deena Deardurff Schmidt, a 1972 Olympic champion, disclosed she was molested by her coach in the 1960s. Despite telling USA Swimming officials years later, she said, the coach whom she would not name went on to train more swimmers and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. At least four lawsuits have been filed against USA Swimming alleging improper contact between coaches and young athletes. The American television show 20/20 reported at least 36 coaches have been banned for life by the governing body because of sexual misconduct.
Saltzstein, who served at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a technical official, said USA Swimming notified him less than a week after he sent the letter that he would no longer be eligible to work at international meetings. USA Swimming said it was aware of Saltzstein's letter but had no immediate comment. * AP