Monday, December 12, 2011

Coffee with Chuck

Lest I bury the lead of this post, I'll start with this: next weekend I'm meeting with USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus. If that sounds unbelievable. Rest assured that I am just as surprised.

Susan Woessner, who reached out to me roughly a month ago, has been the broker for the meeting. I haven't heard anything from Wielgus himself. When she first brought it up, I was incredulous. Did he know that I had written publicly that he should resign? I was told that he did, although I could get no assurances that he had read me making fun of him for not using the internet.

The purpose of the meeting remains somewhat ambiguous. I have been told by Susan that it will be very informal. It will be a chance to start a dialogue. Perhaps I'll start to get answers to the questions I've posed in this blog, or perhaps not. Either of which will be telling.

If you've been following long enough you know that during my briefly realized podcast I tried to get Chuck to talk to me. This was shortly after his 20/20 appearance. I was curtly denied. Now Colorado Springs seems increasingly interested in actively engaging one of it's most vocal critics. To what end? I hope to know more on Saturday.


  1. For those of us who have attempted to meet with Chuck Wielgus about changing the rules of swimming to protect children (after seeing USA Swimming fail to respond to abuse of our own) this is disturbing.

    Susan Woessner is a dangerous failure and Chuck Wielgus tolerates abuse to continue his own paycheck. Don't be manipulated.

  2. Could you clarify what is disturbing? You say that you have attempted to meet with Chuck, do you not trust that I will be an advocate when I meet with Chuck?

  3. "Susan Woessner is a dangerous failure"

    huh? explain please

  4. I'm not worried about you so much as what Wielgus might say. Too many victims have listened to him try to lay all responsibility aside. The man has arguably perjured himself in the Andy King case by saying he knew nothing until 2009 when he was emailing on the subject in 2003.

    Susan Woessner has failed repeatedly to deal with simple situations (Couer d'Alene and Woodmoor for example) and is grossly incapable of performing her job. Her "Flagship Athlete Protection Program in Olympic Sports" is resting on the bottom of the swimming pool.

    What you see on Splash of Truth's website is only the tip of the iceberg. USA Swimming is working aggressively behind the scenes to buy or intimidate their way out of situations. I know from personal experience. Up front they are trying to win over critics like you. I applaud your efforts, but when you respond to Susan's attempt at redirection..."Why aren't you more politically involved?" risk being drawn into an arena where the results of the battle are already determined despite your best efforts.

    USA Swimming is responding because they are taking some good shots right now. The heavy hitters of the media have yet to weigh in but will very soon. I say this with nothing but respect for your open approach to USA Swimming's problems...don't let yourself be an unwitting pawn in this battle.

  5. Swimming World: With a year behind you, how do you think the Athlete Protection structure put in place last year is working so far?

    Susan: As I look back on the work over the last year, it is clear that we have created the flagship Athlete Protection Program in Olympic sports and we're extremely proud of that. I know that it is working because our members are using the system. They are identifying and reporting inappropriate behavior, and that empowers USA Swimming to take action. They are calling me to ask questions and seek clarification on the guidelines and policies we put in place.


    From: Susan Woessner []
    Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 10:38 AM
    Subject: RE: USA Swimming Check In

    Hi xxxxxx,

    I hope this note finds you well and you are enjoying summer!

    I just wanted to follow up with you regarding your complaint and our series of communications earlier this year. As of March 14, our most recent communication, you had not indicated you had made a decision regarding a National Board of Review against xxxxxx xxxxxx in your name. We will consider this complaint closed unless I hear from you otherwise that you do want to proceed with the NBOR.

    On another note, during one of our many conversations, you indicated that your children, xxxxxx and xxxxxx and xxxxxx, were staying with xxxxxx xxxxxx and xxxxxx xxxxxx respectively. We had discussed that in order for that to continue within the code of conduct for USA Swimming, xxxxxx and xxxxxx would need to become legal guardians . has there been any progress on that?

    Thanks, xxxxxx




    It really seems so odd that you are making a priority of something that is not illegal. Humm.. CAST blatantly violated USA Swimming rules regarding retaliation for the reporting of Sexual misconduct. That didn't need any verification of xxxxxx xxxxxx' alledged crime, just that CAST retaliated against the xxxxxx family. Filing a lawsuit against me and my children WAS CLEARLY a violation of USA Swimming Rules. Did you do anything about that?

    Did you let my children, xxxxxx and xxxxxx, USA Swimming members, be intimidated, bullied by Adults? YES YOU DID. My children had to deal with the embarrassment and etc for 8 months with the pending lawsuit against them.

    You didn't have to be there when xxxxxx was crying and the other kids in IES talking about the lawsuit. SHAME ON USA SWIMMING I am not talking about the merits of the lawsuit, but the fact that a member team, with the consent of the coach, filed a lawsuit against a family, for defamation (a provable truth), after that family made a report of sexual misconduct against the team president's son.


    306.2 - No member shall retaliate against any individual who has made a good faith report under (USA Swimming Athlete Protection Rules).

    Instead of initiating an investigation against an individual who performed a sexual act in front of young children, Ms. Woessner chose to try to enforce the rules against the person reporting the abuser.

    Susan, if you can't initiate an investigation or a board of review without a formal complaint then how can you pursue the rules against the victims?

  6. In fairness it is possible that Susan Woessner is too stupid or too blindly loyal to realize she is being used as a smoke screen by Chuck Wielgus.

    You would think that as National Athlete Protection Officer Susan would have the authority to act on complaints. In reality she probably just records the information from phone calls in her notebook and takes it to Chuck and Bruce Stratton to decide what gets looked at and what is deemed by the pair to not be a violation. Those don't get investigated. Sound like a just and unbiased process?

    Why would USA Swimming want such a flawed device?

    From Splash: Between four executives at USA Swimming, including Chuck Wielgus ($750,000.00 per year), Pat Hogan ($200,000.00), Mike Unger ($230,000.00) and Frank Busch ($400.000.00), USA Swimming is paying over 1.6 million dollars. If you include Mark Schubert's $250,000.00 per year settlement as the former National Team Director, that brings the total salary to close to two million dollars for five people! In addition, athough she's considered a nice person and isn't involved in the corrupion, it was just confirmed to just that Lindsey (Benko) Mintenko is making $120,000.00 per year as an assistant to the National Team Director. One could also factor in the millions of dollars in legal fees that Wielgus is spending in these sexual misconduct lawsuits of USA Swimming member money to simply save his job and prolong his employment with USA Swimming.

    Susan, as someone whose face I see every day, I have some advice for you. House a couple and think long and hard about what career you want after the truth you try to hide from comes out. If you continue on your present course you may find that the good coaches who are trying to fix USA Swimming may not welcome you into their midst. Of course you can always take a spot in some local government child protection operation. They seem to accept people who just mail it in.

  7. Waiting for USA Swimming or one of their Kool-Aide drinkers to throw out the "Judge not lest ye be judged" line.

    Thought for the day: Who benefits if we do not judge? Does the person who is honest and hard working gain if his actions aren't examined? No! It is only evil that can profit from our failure to investigate the actions and motives of others.

    Judge and prepare to be judged!

  8. Sun Tzu would suggest you choose the battlefield, not your opponent.

    Don't get sucker punched Chris.

  9. the squeaky wheels gets the grease.

    your visit is most likely being done to appease your blogs. the chance that that the power players at usas are going to change anything because you visit is slim to none, and slim left the building.

    theyll wine and dine you. tell you what you want to hear. and you will leave feeling good about the meeting and the direction of usas.

    but in the end, nothing will change. you're not a player so they will treat you with a modicum of courtesy just to keep you engaged. the membership will still pay $1.6 million per year for salaries of those who continue to promote from within, just furthering the depths of the corruption.

    this is your 15 minutes of fame with the pope. play your cards right and they may offer you a job. good luck.

  10. Could you ask Chuck about the incessant drug and alcohol abuse among coaches?

    In 2007 I sent him an e-mail regarding my concerns about my first hand knowledge of coaches drug and alcohol abuse, coaches smoking pot in their car leaving prelims of a swim meet. I could go on and on...

    His response was: there is no way that any coach in USSwimming would ever do anything like that, coaches are held to a very high standard, and that basically I am crazy for even thinking any of that was going on, and was told to contact my LSC, which I did and was told that it was a board matter.

    I sent this e-mail under the guise of being a swim mom. So the tone of of the e-mail was that I had no idea what I talking about, and I should just let the coaches do their thing.(But I was a coach). My concern with all of the alcohol and drug abuse would never matter, because Chuck made it clear that he was not even going to look into it.

    FYI people, the sexual abuse crap is only one dirty little secret. There is a huge problem with subtance abuse with coaches. Why is there no DRUG testing? Has anyone looked into how many of the coaches on the "List" have substance abuse issues?

    Please ask Chuck,
    Truth and Karma

  11. ^^^^^^^^^^
    Sexual and physical abuse has to be number one priority. I know alcohol and substance abuse is a bad thing, especially around kids but what is the defining line? I have enjoyed a beer or 2 with our kids coach. No, we don't do drugs. Kids look up to coaches as gods (hence easy to sexually violate)but they are human beings like the rest of us. I'm not saying look the other way but these folks do have lives outside of the pool. If you over regulate no one will sign up for the job. I am not a gifted writer and am probably not getting my point across very well. Choose your battles. Sexual abuse first. And why is your name truth and karma if you are anon and posed as a swim mom? Seems like you could have done more at local level?

  12. I'd be interested if there was a connection between alcohol/drug abuse and sexual abuse. A lot of these stories start with the coaches drinking with the victims, afterall.

  13. I vote for Susan being too stupid.

    The following 2 scenarios brought to Susan's attention were deemed 'not code violations' and she could not take any action...

    I very recently brought to Susan's attention a USA Swim coach who also coaches high school girls, who was 'following' 55 people in his twitter account, that fell into the following categories:

    Playboy centerfold
    Hooters Waitress
    Hooters restaurants throughout the US

    While these alone are fairly benign, it is the following two categories that are alarming:

    porn stars
    models using their twitter accounts as fronts for porn sites

    Susans response to me was that there was no code of conduct violation (and thus no action needed from USA Swimming), but why don't YOU (meaning me) alert his employer.

    So after the head of athlete protection is notified that one of USA Swimming's coaches has a serious 'infatuation' with women and sex, her official response is for me to handle it.

    I know of a situation where a convicted pedophile owned an outdoor pool for 5 years. during that time, a USA registered swim team used that pool for team practice as well as for their Swim America lessons. The pedophile was seen at the pool on many occasions. To make matters more interesting, the pedophiles sister is the board president of the swim team that rented the pool from the pedophile. Her husband, the pedophiles brother-in-law, is an assistant DA and prosecutes people like this all the time, yet he has no problem with the pedophiles ownership and use of this facility.
    USA Swimming was notified of this and because there was no code of conduct violation and the pedophile was not a member of USA Swimming, Susan said there was nothing they could do.

    The pedophile was convicted of second degree sexual assault of a minor (the pedophile was a 39 yr old male, his victim was a 14 yr old boy). the pedophile also had a prior misdemeanor conviction for indecent exposure as well as a prior arrest with deferred sentence for lewd behavior/exposed genitals. seems he was exposing himself to 12 yr old girls...

    No disclosure was ever made to the swim team members or Swim America students and families that a convicted child molester owned and used the facility.

    I find it hard to believe that there is nothing in the USA code of conduct which covers acceptable use of social media. To me, a coach of young girls SHOULD NOT be following porn stars and porn sites which use girls of questionable legal age... This coach has an unhealthy 'addiction' to sex. Do we really want guys like this coaching young girls?

  14. Chris, my suggestion to you: don't go. You would have been better off to try to get to Washington this week for the Senate hearings on child abuse. Meeting with Chuck is a play to get you to change your tune in your blog. and it'll probably work. you seem easy to manipulate, based solely on what I've read regarding your time with Susan. If that's not true, you have a chance to prove me wrong.

    If you go to meet Chuck, take an attorney with you.

  15. This comment section is even more passionate than I expected. I would ask that many of you forgive me ahead of time if my meeting with Chuck doesn't live up to your expectations. I am flattered that many of you expect so much.

  16. I posed as a swim mom back in 2007, when I was still coaching for fear of retaliation from the good ole boys, head coach (pot smoker), etc.

    I was a victim of sexual abuse by my swim coach, he drank what he called a "suitcase" of Coors Light every night.I also coached with someone that drank until he passed out pretty much every night, he is on the sex offenders list for raping a 15 year old. I have been aroung swimming for 30 years, as a swimmer, and a coach.I have been around some high profile coaches, and people named in this blog.

    I know more than anyone that the sexual abuse is a problem. But don't we need to look at the big picture? all of the behaviors of the adults that we allow our children to spend most of their time with?
    You have to be drug tested to work at a car dealership, Goodwill, YMCA. Come on, pull your heads out of the sand.

    Truth and karma!!

  17. Chris,

    I think we should all remember on what basis people or organizations should be judged.

    Words are cheap. You will be told by Chuck and Susan that they are doing so much to protect children but all of the evidence says otherwise. We should and will judge USA Swimming based on their actions.

    Andy King was put in jail for the rest of his life for sexual acts on young girls at his third successive club. USA Swimming knew about the first two and only banned him after he was behind bars. Chuck lied about this under oath.

    USA Swimming's response was not to reach out to Jane Doe and offer to help with the counseling and other needs she faces after these heinous crimes. They had their lawyers repeatedly torment and berate her to scare or scar her into botching her story. This is what USA Swimming is about. This is not something any reasonable person can tolerate. Only the monopoly given to the organization for selecting the Olympic team keeps these @$$#*%&$'s from being run out of town by the parents and coaches.

    Chuck Wielgus wields this authority like a spiked whip. The only reason he does it one handed is because the other hand is in the cash drawer.

    Swimming needs change. Wielgus hopes you are Sean Penn - good actor, bad judge of character. We need you to be Seal Team 6 - good in the water, nasty in the evil guy's house.

    Good luck and for swimming's sake I hope you get yourself kicked out of the building.

  18. How do you know how USA swimmings lawyers treated Jane doe unless you are the plaintiffs attorney suing USA swimming with primary interest to discredit the organization's efforts?

  19. Jane Doe lawsuit already settled the day before trial. Depositions were available through the court and elsewhere online.

    Luckily for USA Swimming some are now sealed but enough is out to realize that Jean Weil (you?) is a perfect hag counsel for a corrupt organization to hire.

    The depositions are a pain in the butt to read but are very enlightening.

    The plantiff's attorney posts here and elsewhere under his own name. Hope you enjoyed your fishing trip!

  20. Notice that the lawyer posting above did not deny any of the allegations in the note but went looking for a legality to attack and discredit the poster.

    Chris, if you have a problem with the organization, why don't you get more politically involved? Because we are learning not to fall for these off topic redirects Jean...or John...or Rich...jerks

  21. get more 'politically involved'... hmmmm.... I'd say the less 'political' you make your involvement and keep your perspective, the better off you are. Why can't USA Swimming become less political and more involved?

  22. Bingo and $$$. USA Swimming thinks this bowling for dullards. While most parents aren't paying attention, those who are find the sport's leadership to be morally bankrupt and clearly dangerous.

    Trying to solve this problem by political involvement with USA Swimming would be about as effective as the abused children trying to reason with their rapists. The answer you get is "Shut up and take it. We know what is good for you."

    The impossibility of the situation is why document and email leaks are coming from inside USA Swimming's own headquarters.

    USA Swimming would like you to believe it is evil lawyers trying to discredit the good work of the organization. In reality, the only evil people USA Swimming and their lawyers see are the faces in their own bathroom mirror.

  23. I wish all of the Anonymous' would number themselves, so that I could point out which ones I'm responding to.

    To the coach-posing-as-a-swim-mom - I think your final point is what sways this situation to Chris' advantage, and one of the big reasons why I think he will approach it with the appropriate tact. They can't kick him out of the building - it's his building. Chris has the home field advantage on this one, and I expect it to be played out as such.

  24. there's no "home field" advanatage for chris. if chuck decides to cancel or stop the meeting, he will. chuck can always play the "this is a usa-s event" card and make the field his own.

    but, again, chuck/usa-s will put on a smiley face and just nod and nod and nod to all chris' questions, etc. in the end, chris may feel as though he got what he wanted, but the reality is that chuck/usa-s will have gotten what THEY wanted.

    who knows, chris may get "an offer he can't refuse" at usa-s.

  25. I am posting to clarify a few things that have been discussed in the comments above. First, the meeting will take place at a neutral location. I am sure that Chuck and Susan may choose to leave whenever they wish during it, just as I am free to do so.

    Chuck has reached out to me ahead of time to try and limit what may be discussed in our meeting. I have declined his request. Despite this request, I am proceeding with the meeting anyway, knowing that I may get none of my questions answered. I hope that those reading trust that I will not be run over by a carefully managed message- I am prepared to stand firm on the stance I have taken I have not received any good reason why Chuck cannot address or confront what I have written on my blog, especially in light of the power relationship between the two of us.

    I plan to be calm, logical and firm and let our conversation primarily speak for itself.

  26. record it and post the recording of the conversation!

  27. you should contact Micheal Moore and ask him to join your meeting with his film crew

  28. Spurlock is a better storyteller.

  29. Chris,

    I have faith in you and confidence that you will represent yourself and many others in the swimming community well and ask the hard questions. Whether or not you get honest and forthright answers is not up to you but to Chuck and any he brings with him when you chat. That is out of your control. I just want to know who is paying for the coffee :)

    Enjoy the conversation and we shall see Chuck will say anything meaningful or honest.

    Let us know how it goes.

    Your favorite YMCA coach in Philadelphia.

  30. chris,
    what are the top 3 or 5 questions you intend to ask his almighty and what answers do you hope to get?

  31. Can I tell you afterwards? USA Swimming has a number of readers of this blog.

  32. It can't hurt to talk to Chuck - I would love to be in your position. Have Fun!!!

  33. Fresh brewed cup-o-.... coming right up. Chuck and USAS are so deep in the .... that i don't even want to listen to what they have to say anymore. Honestly, there is nothing he could say in the interview that will save his ars, nor will save the dozens of swimmer bride proteges he is protecting at the top ranks of USAS/ASCA.

  34. Yeah I was not counting on USA Swimming having settled their lawsuit the day prior to this meeting:

  35. I just hope you can get a little humility out of the guy. My biggest issue with Chuck is that he seems to above the rest of us. The 20/20 interview revealed his true nature. Think about how easy it would have been for him to say "I am very sorry for what the victims and their families have gone through. We (USA Swimming) are going to do everything in our power to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future". Instead he says "you want me to to apologize?" What a blunder.

  36. Meeting over. I know many people want to hear what happened. My feelings remain unchanged from before but I certainly know more than I did before. Thanks ahead of time or your patience as I gather my thoughts.

  37. Well, what was said?