Aquatics and Commercial

Australian Olympic swimmer Maddie Groves makes more explosive accusations

December 15, 2021

Olympic medallist Madeline Groves, who rocked the swimming community by calling out inappropriate behaviour by Australian swim coaches to female swimmers, has made further accusations including that she was sexually abused at a young age by an adult who still works in swimming.

WARNING: Some readers may find the content of this story distressing.

Her initial accusations led to the appointment of an independent panel to investigate the treatment of women and girls in the sport and encouraged further accusations to come to light.

Later, allegations were made about swim coach John Wright, who has since been arrested and is facing nine charges of indecent dealing with a child and one count of common assault.

Groves watched some of Wright’s accusers speak out on the ABC as part of an exclusive expose by Lorna Knowles of ABC Investigations and Nikki Tugwell of 7:30. This encouraged her to come forward with further allegations she felt she had been unable to make earlier, saying she didn’t feel there was anyone she could tell.

She told the ABC that as the Wright case focussed on historical abuse, there was the attitude that these behaviours were in the past, but she didn’t think that was necessarily true.

Her most explosive accusation is that when she was underage, she was molested by an adult male on multiple occasions.

“At the time I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could tell about that,” she told the ABC. “And there’s no-one in swimming that I would trust disclosing that to now, either.”

Groves said the abuse started when she was 13 and continued until she was 18. She declined to identify the alleged perpetrator but said he still worked in swimming.

She said that she hadn’t made a complaint about the individual, because her experience of making complaints about other people in sport was so discouraging.

Additionally, she accused two leading coaches of misconduct – saying one swimming coach controlled what she ate and made sexist comments to her; and the other stared at her breasts and touched her inappropriately.

She says that after making complaints about one of the coaches, she was treated as a “problem child” and did not receive the funding she was owed until she enlisted radio shock jock Alan Jones to intervene on her behalf.

SA comments

In a statement, Swimming Australia said Groves’ funding was temporarily put on hold in 2017 due to a suspected anti-doping rule violation that she was later cleared of and to their knowledge it was subsequently back paid.

Swimming Australia says it strongly refutes any suggestion that it declined to support Groves during her break from swimming. It also said it had taken all her complaints seriously and taken steps to address them.

The statement also said Swimming Australia would continue to work with Sport Integrity Australia to improve its processes. Recommendations from the independent panel are due early next year.

Brendon Ward, CEO of the Australian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA) also released a statement saying that all such complaints and allegations are taken extremely seriously.

“While ASCTA’s purpose revolves around supporting its membership of primarily coaches, teachers, and swim schools, ASCTA maintains a commitment to the wellbeing of the whole swimming community and strives to support the continuous personal and professional development of everyone within its network, thereby enabling and promoting the highest standards of behaviour.”

ASCTA says they have endorsed the Safe Sport Framework which includes child protection, member welfare and complaints handling processes since it was first developed and are in full support of Sport Integrity Australia managing the safe sport and complaints management aspects from Swimming Australia.

Click to watch the 730 report on Maddie Groves’ accusations.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Headspace on 1800 650 890
ReachOut at au.reachout.com

CAPTION: Madeline Groves. Image: JD Lasica 2016

 



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