There are many layers to the exoneration of Stopkotte. Most important is the sentiment that Stopkotte shared following:
" It was a very depressing, embarrassing and humiliating period of my life and it was extremely difficult and painful for me"
And thankfully it's over. For the time period while Stopkotte was still battling the charges against him, he was frequently used as a foil against those who chose to speak out as he did. The implication was that since the whistleblower from 20/20 was an "embezzler" and a "thief", ipso facto those who agreed with him were much the same. It was also frequently insinuated that he was the person behind the "Splash of Truth" website in order to discredit that site as well.
What remains is Stopkotte's suspension from USA Swimming for falsifying times. I don't believe the suspension is undeserved- the changing of results and reversing disqualified swims is very dishonest. However, the practice is much more frequent than USA Swimming or Indiana Swimming would probably like to admit, and it's hard to not feel like Stopkotte was singled out and retaliated against by both. It seems that rather than being guilty of falsifying times, Stopkotte was guilty of "falsifying times while criticizing USA Swimming"
I was reminded of how thin skinned Colorado Springs remains when I read this Swimming World interview a month ago. The article is purported to contain an interview of Susan Woessner over the rebranding of "Athlete Protection" to "Safe Sport". The questions for the interview are embarassing. There are only two options: Susan wrote them herself or someone at Swimming World (there is no interviewer named) wrote the questions specifically to softball Susan. The entire thing reads like a P.R. statement.
I have no issue with USA Swimming conducting some PR- the organization could certainly use some. But when they use supposedly "independent" media to deliver their PR under false pretenses, it makes them and Swimming World look very insecure. The largest remaining hurdle for USA Swimming in creating a "safer" sport is letting go of protecting their own organization ego- when I spoke to Mike Unger a couple months ago he couldn't help but bemoan how terribly unfair everything that had happened to USA Swimming was.
Which brings us full circle- the dropping of charges against Ken Stopkotte was a reminder that while the most powerful people in swimming can't help but think of themselves as the victims, they most certainly aren't.