Swimming Australia has urged Maddie Groves to provide more information on allegations the athlete made after she withdrew from the upcoming Olympic trials and said her decision should be a lesson for “misogynistic perverts” in the sport.
Kieren Perkins, President of Swimming Australia, said the sport’s national governing body had contacted the 26-year-old Olympian when she first raised concerns on social media a year ago and again this week, but that she did not yet have a direct conversation with her about the allegations. .
“This is a very worrying thing for us,” Perkins told ABC on Friday. “These types of issues are, to be honest, the highest on my list as president that we need to be aware of. [of] and manage. We need to manage the safety of our athletes. That is crucial for us. ”
In late November last year, Groves claimed that someone she worked with had made her feel “uncomfortable” by the way they looked at her in her swimsuit. She also claimed she became ashamed and told that she did not “deserve more help” after two surgeries.
“We reached out to her in December 2020 to reach out to her on these concerns,” Perkins said. “Unfortunately, at this time we have not been able to have a direct conversation with her to understand what her concerns are, who the people involved are, so we can investigate and deal with it.
“We encourage her to do so because this is one of the most significant issues and challenges we have in all sports to ensure that our athletes are supported and protected in their environment.”
Groves announced on social media on Wednesday that she had withdrawn from the Olympic swimming trials, putting an end to her hopes of representing Australia at another game. In a separate statement released Thursday, she made accusations about her treatment of an unnamed person involved in the sport.
Perkins admitted that there have been problems in the sport over the years, but said he was confident in the processes and frameworks available for complaints to be dealt with.
“Swimming was one of the sports mentioned in the Royal Commission on Institutional Abuse,” Perkins said. “And we’ve definitely done a mountain of work in recent years to tighten sports policy frameworks, make sure we have the right processes for whistleblower investigations, and make sure police cases are handled the way they need to.”
He said he shared a “visceral” response with others on the allegations that there is a misogynistic culture in the sport.
“There will always be historical things that we need to acknowledge and work to resolve, but I think everyone in our sport will definitely be challenged with the claim that the misogynistic culture,” he said.
“We’ve been a proud and mixed sport, we’ve had countless legends and our sports of both sexes, and swimming wants to keep this dear.”
Groves, a butterfly specialist, came to the Rio Games in 2016 when she won two silver medals. She is also a two-time Commonwealth champion. Her last medal at a major event came at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo in 2018.
Mitch Larkin, one of Groves’ teammates who goes to the pool at the trials starting on Saturday in Adelaide, said it was imperative that Swimming Australia get to the bottom of the problem.
“If there’s a cultural problem, we’d absolutely love to change it,” Larkin said. “Her well-being, not only for herself but for all athletes, is very important to us as the leader of the Dolphins team. I might text her and check on her.
“But I know we at Swimming Australia have been working on the importance of having a really good structure and there are a lot of people on the Dolphins team who are there to support her … if she ever wanted to stretch go out and express concerns and take them a little further than fighting the battle yourself. ”
The Australian Olympic Committee acknowledged Grove’s allegations on Friday, and President John Coates said there was “no place” in the sport for the alleged behavior.