Tuesday, July 31, 2012

John Leonard: The Cowardly Lion

Yesterday, American Swim Coaches Association (and World Swim Coaches Association) Executive Director John Leonard was widely quoted on the topic of Ye Shiwen. Cited in articles as a "promintent US swim coach", Leonard strongly implied that Shiwen was doping, while prefacing those implications by saying he wasn't implying she was doping. This isn't the first time Leonard has felt the need to insert himself into a debate vital to swimming. In fact, Leonard seems to believe that his opinion is always needed, except on one vitally important topic: sexual abuse by coaches. Leonard's quote's are a reminder once again that swim coaches worldwide should be embarrassed that he is in a leadership position among us. 

Here are the quotes Leonard gave:

"We want to be very careful about calling it doping". This is kind of like saying "no offense" before you say something really offensive: utterly meaningless when you consider what follows.

"The one thing I will say is that history in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, 'unbelievable’, history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved. That last 100m was reminiscent of some old East German swimmers, for people who have been around a while. It was reminiscent of 400m individual medley by a young Irish woman in Atlanta"

In two sentences, Leonard pivots to tell us that whenever a performance like Shiwen's occurs, doping is involved and compares her to two of the most publicized doping cases of the modern era: the East German swimmers of the 1970-80s and Michele Smith from the 1996 games in Atlanta.

At face value, Leonard's comments are merely ignorant and reflect a generally biased western viewpoint. Setting aside the irrationality of the comparison he draws (comparing Shiwen to Michele Smith is particularly uninformed), he is using a common psychological ploy. There is no scenario for John Leonard and his media mouthpiece Craig Lord wherein Chinese athletes do not confirm doping suspicions. If they underperform, it is evidence that they were doped in the past and are no longer, and evidence that high performance by the country in general from the past was doped. If they perform well, they must be doping because they are from China and some past exceptional performances from Chinese athletes have been followed by positive tests.

More galling is the way Leonard treats the issue of coaches who have been accused of molesting swimmers. For Leonard, being from China and swimming fast is enough to indicate someone is doping. Leonard requires far more proof that a coach has abused their athletes. Witness the ASCA photo album, which includes photos of the following coaches:

1. Mitch Ivey, who was featured in Sports Illustrated with the following:

"Noel Moran Quilici, who, at 18, married Ivey, then 30, in 1979. Quilici told ESPN that she "rebuffed his sexual advances" when she was 15 but began a sexual relationship with him at age 17. At the time, she was swimming for Ivey at the Santa Clara Swim Club. Six months after their marriage she discovered his involvement with a 17-year-old swimmer and filed for divorce"

Ivey was subsequently fired from his position as head coach of University of Florida.

2. Paul Bergen. Former Olympic swimmer Deena Deardurff Schmidt publicly implicated and possibly even testified under oath (I am protecting myself in the event that somehow the testimony I read was fabricated) began sexual molesting her while she was a young teenager swimming under him.

3. Rick Curl. Curl remains even after last week a swimmer publicly stated that he entered into a sexual relationship with her when she was just 13 years old, then later convinced her sign a confidentiality agreement. The accusation resulted in an emergency hearing by USA Swimming, with Curl taking a leave of absence from the swim club named after him and the club quickly trying to distance itself. 

I could go on, but by now you get the point. As a new day dawned, USA Swimming tried to distance itself from Leonard, stating that "John Leonard ... is not an employee, representative or spokesperson for USA Swimming, nor is he a member of the U.S. Olympic Swim Team or a part of the U.S. delegation here in London". While that is true, the organization (ASCA) that John Leonard heads is inextricably linked with USA Swimming. USA Swimming uses an ASCA developed test to certify coaches- without a $20 ASCA dvd the two hour exam is nearly impossible to pass on the first attempt. 

Swim coaches should be embarrassed that John Leonard represents us. He is part of a morally corrupt old guard in swimming that desperately needs to go away. He stands for what is wrong in swimming- swim coaches worldwide deserve a better leader. 



29 comments:

  1. I've been at most of the sessions in London so far (as a spectator) and at all those I've attended, Leonard and Wielgus have sat next to each other (just the 2 of them, not part of larger delegations) in the (non-ticketed) VIP area of the stand. Leonard also somehow has access to the deck as I've seen him on it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Too true Chris and the biggest reason why I don't give him my money to be a part of "the club".

    I was in the coaches meeting at USAS when the big pieces of legislation went through on athlete protection. He took to the podium during that meeting with his message about FINA, coach/swimmer reps, ridding the sport of the polyurethane suits and even starting a different International Governing Body. Not once during his entire pulpit banging sermon did he every talk about the children for which we are obligated to provide a safe environment to swim in. We had a moral obligation to protect the sport from FINA. It was disgusting..

    ReplyDelete
  3. Does the ASCA, as a practice, implicate it's coaches on doping charge without proof?

    The 16yo Chinese swimmer John Leonard accused of doping, was trained in Australia by Ken Wood and Denis Cotterell, where at least one of them is the member of WSCA.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Washed up and Pec-lessAugust 1, 2012 at 5:14 AM

    As a comparison, Beni Bertrand Binobagira qualified for the 100 free with a 3:39, and then turned in a staggering 1:04 in the heats. Thats a 2 minute and 35 second drop. IN A 100!! No way this guy isn't on drugs. Sure, he probably trained hard to better his time like the rest of the olympians here, but drops like that are just unprecedented at this level of competition.

    ReplyDelete
  5. John Leonard is an irresponsible idiot. Regardless of what becomes of ye, he is unfit for representing any body of stature. I hope disciplinary actions are taken against such rascals. With power one should also be held responsible for their actions. All US of A would be cowardly if we let him off the hook easy.

    Shame on te media for not putting more heat on this guy after the results showed nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This American pig coach should be sacked with immediate effect and kicked out of Europe. Arrogant Americans are not wanted in Europe.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This bastard should be prosecuted for slander and publicly humiliated. Vermin need to be stamped out quickly and he sounds - from all the discussions concerning sexual abuse - particularly dangerous. GET RID OF THE BASTARD NOW.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sexual abuse? you mean a Sandaski type of thing?

      Delete
    2. Did you bother to read the above blog, on which you are commenting, MORON? No doubt you are just one more dumb American...

      Delete
    3. My comment was directed at this idiot who wrote:

      AnonymousAugust 1, 2012 7:18 PM
      Sexual abuse? you mean a Sandaski type of thing?

      Delete
    4. John Leonard had multiple criminal records, one of them sexual abuse. You know how much credit you can get from a sex offender.

      Delete
    5. John Leonard is a son of bitch too because his mother was a prostitute from Mexico

      Delete
  8. To use John Leonard's own style:

    I want to be very careful here, and not accusatory, but when you have a case of someone continually failing to come down on people accused of sexual impropriety.... In the past, maybe not this case, but in the past it has meant that individual has some skeletons of their own. Sometimes where there is smoke there is fire. At least, that's what the "history" has shown.

    To be fair, the rumblings about John as a coach in the Syracuse area always had to do with (many) of the married mothers of his swimmers and not the kids.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Now that IOC has announced results of the mandatory anti-doping tests, John Leonard is moving on to the even more outlandish claim Ye was genetically manipulated in-vitro.

    So in other words, John Leonard believes while Monsanto just started working on a potato, the Chinese had perfected genetic modification on human, 17 years ago, before the human genome was even mapped?

    ReplyDelete
  10. John Leonard had multiple criminal records, one of them being sexual abuse. You know how much credit you can get from a sex offender. Not many American really take his words serious.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Leonard appears to be anonymously repeating his allegations on Quora. http://www.quora.com/2012-Summer-Olympics-in-London/Is-it-fair-to-speculate-insinuate-that-Chinese-womens-swimmer-Ye-Shiwen-is-doping-as-John-Leonard-did-at-the-Olympics/answers/1419968

    This answer contains a lot of praise for "Coach" Leonard, technical swimming observations similar to those Leonard as made, very similar phrasing to wording used in Leonard's interview (both direct quotes and transcriptions) with Yahoo Sports: http://sg.sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics--u-s--swimming-director-steps-up-chinese-doping-allegations.html . It also uses the psychological ploy identified in this article: performing slower in the 200 IM is proof that she was told to back off, if she had performed faster it likely would have been further proof that her performances were anomalies.

    The answer even goes as far as to write "As a Chinese person, I love seeing my home country do well," which I would believe is likely an attempt by Leonard to prove his non-identity. That sentence is very strangely worded: most Chinese people identify in the first person as "I'm Chinese" or "I'm ethnically Chinese" - the phrasing comes off to me as someone thinking in the third person but writing in the first person.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Apparently John Leonard's criminal record has been posted on internet - not surprising really - he had it coming to him.
    If he is prepared to destroy the career of a young innocent person, and approach the UK media about it, without any proof whatsoever, then he must pay the consequences. He deserves to be sacked with immediate effect, as those - who have any sense of ethics - have been saying from the outset.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. you know, i seriously hope this leonard dude can come out and publicly apologize to all those that he has accused before. freedom of speech, yes -- but there must be consequences for making baseless public statements that damage others' reputations (first Ye Shiwen, and now Ledecky - as a collateral in this whole nonsense started by leonard). john leonard is lucky the chinese aren't coming down hard on him legally, so i say just admit to the hypocrisy, and be a man about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "... be a "man" about it " ??? This sounds like real US horseshit... An apology is not good enough - this piece of shit, for that is what he is, should be SACKED and hopefully the Chinese will take legal proceedings against the US. It's what you deserve.

      Delete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I support what Leonard says - it's very reminiscent of the East Germans. Too many politically correct comments - call it the way it (probably) is. Where are all the the German female swimmers now?? Where were the Chinese female swimmers in the past 20-30 yrs?? If it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck and looks like a duck.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And this "argument", my friends, is why Americans are referred to, worldwide, as morons.

      Delete
  18. John Leonard is an asshole, period

    ReplyDelete
  19. So I keep seeing that someone posts that John Leonard has a criminal history including child abuse, where is it? Can someone produce a link? I'm not defending, but without proof it's just as slanderous as the comments he made about the Chinese swimmer!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anon,

    Former google China head Kaifu Lee, in a fit of anger against John Leonard, reportedly posted Leonard's criminal record online. He has since deleted it and the only images that I could find are not high quality enough to discern whether the information is authentic or what it even says. It has been reported that two of the four items listed are traffic violations.

    ReplyDelete
  21. John Leonard is a stupid racist. Period.

    Phelps use sintetic drugs (not detected by antidoping yet) and no one talks about it!

    ReplyDelete