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USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus publicly apologized to sexual abuse victims for the first time since the scandal came to light four years ago.
“I’m sorry,” he said to open the statement. “These are powerful words some people have wanted to hear from me for a long time. I have been criticized in blogs, and most recently in the petition opposing International Swimming Hall of Fame induction, for not apologizing for not having done more to prevent sexual abuse by coaches.”
Earlier this week, Wielgus’ induction was rescinded after a petition was filed by the Women’s Sports Foundation.
The foundation said that decision shows that “not only must there be zero tolerance for sexual abuse, but also that leaders must do all within their power to protect the victims, perform competent investigations and remove abusers from positions of access and power.”
Wielgus acknowledged mistakes in how he handled the situation, which began when it became known that some youth swim coaches were molesting their athletes and the abuse went unreported to the Colorado Springs-based organization or if so, the safeguards were inadequate.
“I brought this on myself in April 2010 when I said I had nothing to apologize for on a national television interview,” he said. “Subsequently, I remained, if not defiant, at least defensive. I talked about all the good that USA Swimming was doing in the fight to eradicate sexual abuse. But, I never apologized.”