Maddie Groves’ accusations spark all-female panel to probe accusations of sexism in swimming

Maddie Groves say "misogynistic perverts" have driven her from the sport.

Maddie Groves say "misogynistic perverts" have driven her from the sport. Photo: AP

Swimming Australia is calling on athletes to detail any sexism in the sport while launching a wider investigation into the Maddie Groves furore.

The governing body will create an all-female panel to investigate Groves’ claims of “misogynistic perverts in the sport” and any broader issues.

Groves is still refusing to return calls and emails from SA’s swimming hierarchy.

“It would be great if she could engage with us … but it’s really up to Maddie,” SA chief executive officer Alex Baumann told reporters on Saturday.

Asked if SA had systemic problems regarding treatment of female swimmers, Baumann replied: “I don’t think we do.

“But this is what we are setting up to really try to find, so we’re setting up this panel to exactly take a look at that.”

The independent panel will be formed in the coming weeks while Baumann separately performs a structural review of the governing body.

‘Incidents of fat-shaming’

The organisation’s ethics and integrity committee will also investigate the claims of Groves, a dual Olympic silver medallist who has alleged, among other issues, incidents of fat-shaming.

SA “absolutely” wanted other swimmers to come forward, Baumann said, adding there were currently no other complaints before the organisation.

“What we’re trying to be is as open and transparent as possible,” he said.

“If there are issues, let’s try and address them and let’s try and find solutions collectively to them … let’s do it together rather than us and them.”

Swimmers had the option of making an anonymous complaint, SA director and high performance committee chair Tracy Stockwell said.

“We do have a whistleblower avenue,” Stockwell told reporters.

“And we’re always looking at our processes and what the level of independence, whether police need to be involved.

“There’s a whole process that we believe has been operating pretty well but we always can do better.”

Stockwell said the all-female panel’s terms of reference had yet to be set.

“This has been prompted by Maddie Groves and the ongoing attention to it,” she said.

“And it’s concerning, and when we have any accusations of misbehaviour or inappropriate behaviour we take that very seriously.

“In light of the fact that we don’t have her coming forward, we need to look at our complaints processes to see is there some reason why she’s not coming forward and get to the bottom of it.”

Uncomfortable gaze

Baumann reiterated that SA had no record of any previous complaint from Groves.

Groves last November posted on Twitter: “I definitely made a complaint a few years ago about a person that works at swimming making me feel uncomfortable the way they stare at me in my togs”.

Groves, on Instagram on Wednesday, announced her withdrawal from Australia’s Olympic selection trials, which started Saturday in Adelaide.

She went further on Twitter on Thursday, posting: “Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers.

“You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus.

“Time’s UP.”


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