News Swim ethics committee meets amid fresh fat-shaming, abuse complaints

Swim ethics committee meets amid fresh fat-shaming, abuse complaints

Maddie Groves' accusations prompted a SA ethics committee meeting. Photo: Getty
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Swimming Australia’s ethics committee is meeting to discuss “concerning” fresh details of fat-shaming and an abusive culture in the sport.

SA’s ethics and integrity committee will convene on Monday as fallout continues from swimmer Maddie Groves’ accusations of misogyny at elite levels.

Groves withdrew from Australia’s Olympic trials in Adelaide and, in a series of social media posts, claimed there were “misogynistic perverts in the sport”.

SA is creating an independent all-female panel to examine Groves’ claims and reports of wider degrading coaching practices.

Ahead of the panel being formed, SA’s ethics and integrity committee will meet to hold its own investigation into the furore.

“Any allegations of misconduct are taken seriously by Swimming Australia,” the governing body said in a statement on Monday.

“As part of our ongoing work, our ethics and integrity committee will be meeting today and working on this path forward and the board will be meeting tomorrow.

“As we have said before, these allegations are concerning and we want to provide the best environment for our athletes.”

“We are committed to continuing to operate in the best interests of our athletes and the sport.”

The statement followed a News Corp report detailing incidents including swimmers being “oinked at” and fat-shamed.

The reports centred on research by former Commonwealth Games swimming gold medallist Jenny McMahon.

McMahon, now a senior academic at the University of Tasmania, interviewed hundreds of elite swimmers and coaches from 2007.

She found widespread “toxic coaching” habits had left both men and women psychologically damaged, News Corp reported.

“It’s a patriarchal, male-dominated culture, with a guru-­fixation – it’s dysfunctional,” Dr McMahon told News Corp.

“It looks like all smiles, gold medals and PBs (personal bests) to the outsider, but it leaves a trail of broken athletes and coaches when they do not conform and perform.”

McMahon called on the Australian Human Rights Commission, which recently investigated similar claims in gymnastics, to probe the swimming claims.

McMahon detailed incidents including coaches making pig noises at swimmers if they were perceived to be overweight.

Other incidents, according to McMahon, included a coach ordering an 11-year-old girl swimmer on a 10-kilometre run as punishment for eating an ice cream.

McMahon also said female swimmers had been told they were “getting a lard arse” while one coach told a swimmer to “get a boob reduction because your tits are too big”, according to News Corp.