USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus apologizes to abuse victims

Last week, United States Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus withdrew his name from International Swimming Hall of Fame consideration after a group of 19 women who said they were sexually abused by U.S. swim coaches petitioned the ISHOF.

On Monday, Wielgus apologized for his failure to do more to prevent such events.

Posting on his blog, Wielgus addressed his comments on national television from four years ago when he said there was nothing for him to apologize for. He started the post with a simple apology.

I’m sorry.

These are powerful words some people have wanted to hear from me for a long time. I have been criticized in blogs, and most recently in the petition opposing International Swimming Hall of Fame induction, for not apologizing for not having done more to prevent sexual abuse by coaches.

I brought this on myself in April 2010 when I said I had nothing to apologize for on a national television interview. Subsequently, I remained, if not defiant, at least defensive. While USA Swimming developed its groundbreaking Safe Sport Program, I championed the work of our national governing body. I talked about all the good that USA Swimming was doing in the fight to eradicate sexual abuse. But, I never apologized.

As time progressed, I became afraid that my sincerity would be questioned and anything I said or wrote would be judged as just an attempt to put public relations ahead of true remorse. So I remained silent.

Wielgus has resisted numerous calls for his resignation over the past four years, as many believed that in order for U.S. Swimming to move forward on this matter it would need a new head. The organization has been proactive in its attempt to stop such abuses, hiring an official overseer and mandating training for coaches and officials, according to the Associated Press.

In fact, the U.S. Swimming website keeps a list of coaches who have received lifetime bans, most of which are a result of sexual misconduct. 

"Now, when I look back and see how far we've come as an organization, I also recognize how far I have come," Wielgus wrote. "These experiences have all helped me to grow, and to know that I would never want my daughters, or anyone for that matter, to ever experience the horrors and nightmares that must come during and in the aftermath of a sexually abusive situation.

"And so today, four long years later, I can truthfully say how sorry I am to the victims of sexual abuse." 

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