Swimming Australia responds to disturbing claims from Maddie Groves

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Swimming Australia boss Kieren Perkins, pictured here responding to Maddie Groves' claims.
Swimming Australia boss Kieren Perkins has responded to Maddie Groves' claims. Image: Channel Nine/Getty

Swimming Australia boss Kieren Perkins has responded to bombshell claims from Maddie Groves after the Olympic silver medallist announced she was withdrawing from the national trials on Thursday.

Groves, a dual silver medallist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, announced that she won't be competing at the trials for the upcoming Tokyo Games starting Saturday in Adelaide.

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The 26-year-old announced her withdrawal on Instagram on Wednesday night, then went further on Twitter on Thursday and took aim at "perverts" within the sport.

"Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers," she wrote.

"You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus.

"Time's UP."

Groves, who has endometriosis and adenomyosis, reposted her Tweet to Instagram, adding: "Putting this on the feed for emphasis. Make them pervs quake in fear from the number of people supporting a statement that threatens their existence."

The latest furore comes after Groves claimed on Twitter last November that she had complained about a "person that works at swimming making me feel uncomfortable the way they stare at me in my togs".

She also alleged the perpetrator had been promoted.

She followed up her tweet on December 1 by saying; "Woah guys this may have worked. Next time you have a weirdo stare at your tits and your complaints fall on deaf ears, try tweeting about it.

"I didn't even say where they worked so good on that workplace for immediately knowing it's their shitness. Did they recognise my complaint because they already had it on file".

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Swimming Australia responds to Maddie Groves' claims

But speaking on the Today Show on Friday morning, Swimming Australia CEO Perkins said he had "absolutely no evidence" that a complaint was ever made.

"I don't know who she's talking about or what the complaint is apparently meant to be," Perkins said.

"I actually have no evidence of that and that's really quite concerning. 

"In terms of the culture of our sport, that is something that really does stab at the heart of everybody involved in swimming. 

"We are a sport that has generationally been diverse. Every team has always had an even number of male and female swimmers and we work extremely hard to provide an open and safe environment for everybody. 

"It doesn't mean we always get it right. There have certainly been challenges over the years. I would disagree strongly with that view."

Maddie Groves, pictured here with Emma McKeon and Brianna Throssell at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Maddie Groves (L) with Emma McKeon and Brianna Throssell at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Perkins said Groves would need to sit down with Swimming Australia officials in person before they can properly address her claims.

"She has at no point contacted Swimming Australia, we haven't been able to talk to her directly and go through her concerns with her to find out what's going on," he said.

"I could certainly reassure her and everybody that claims like these are of the utmost importance to us and providing a safe environment for all of our participants is absolutely paramount to us.

"Unfortunately though social media posts don't constitute any actionable claim for us. We actually need to sit down and talk to people about this. 

"We would love to do that and we'd like Maddie to come and speak with us if she feels that she can."

Groves won silver medals in the 200m butterfly and 4x100m medley relay at the Rio Games. She has also won four Commonwealth Games gold medals.

In her Instagram announcement on Wednesday night, Groves indicated she was not quitting the sport.

"I'm so grateful to feel so supported in this decision," she wrote.

"I feel very relieved and I'm looking forward to racing at some other competitions later in the year (yeah sorry/not sorry, you haven't got rid of me just yet!)

"I'm so excited to watch everyone at trials ... whatever happens I genuinely think this will be one of the fastest Australian Swim Teams ever and I encourage everyone to get on the bandwagon early."

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