Canberra, June 26 (IANS) Swimming Australia (SA) has said it is “deeply concerned” over allegations of abuse and mistreatment within the sport.
Nine Entertainment newspaper reported on Friday that six former swimmers have come forward with complaints of mistreatment in the SA system, reports Xinhua.
In response, the governing body said on Saturday that it had not received any details of the allegations but that it was “deeply concerned” by the reports.
“Swimming Australia is committed to creating a safe swimming environment for the entire swimming community; with a zero-tolerance approach to any behaviour that threatens this,” it said in a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“Swimming Australia is deeply concerned and understands these are grave claims.”
This comes after a meeting between senior SA officials and swimmer Maddie Groves on Friday.
Groves earlier in June withdrew from Australia’s Olympic swimming trials after accusing “misogynistic perverts” in the sport of exploiting “young women and girls”.
Her explosive allegations caused SA to establish an all-female independent panel to review the sport’s culture.
On Friday, SA said that the meeting between Groves, president Kieren Perkins and chief executive Alex Baumann was “productive”.
“Our aim today was to understand the concerns raised and today’s meeting was productive,” it said in a statement.
However, lawyer Adair Donaldson — who is currently leading legal action against Gymnastics Australia on behalf of former gymnasts — called for the Human Rights Commission to investigate SA.
“The time has passed for Swimming Australia to control this process…The Human Rights Commission needs to step in,” he was quoted by The Australian.
“I have been in communication with both current swimmers, coaches, parents, and I am alarmed enough to say, based on my previous experience with other sports like gymnastics, that SA should step aside and allow an independent review either by Sports Integrity Australia or the Human Rights Commission.
“I do not believe that Swimming Australia has the athletes’ best interests at heart and it seems based on their response to date they are more concerned about protecting the reputation of the institution.”