Maddie Groves breaks silence after 'misogynistic perverts' claim

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Maddie Groves, pictured here at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Maddie Groves took aim at 'misogynistic perverts' in Swimming Australia. Image: Getty/Instagram

Aussie swimmer Maddie Groves has broken her silence following her boycott of the Tokyo Olympics and claims of "perverts" within the national team.

The 26-year-old pulled out of the Australian Olympic swimming trials in June and levelled some explosive claims against Swimming Australia.

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"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 wrote on social media, taking aim at "misogynistic perverts" within the sport.

The target of her comments was not clear, but last November she complained on Twitter about "a person that works at swimming making me feel uncomfortable the way they stare at me" in her swimming costume.

Groves has gone silent in the months following her claims, but has since spoken again following Australia's record-breaking performance in the pool at the Tokyo Games.

While she admitted it was "disappointing" to miss the Olympics, Groves said she felt she needed to take a stand.

“I was calling a spade a spade. It’s something I have been wading through and dealing with for a few years, so it wasn’t an off-the-cuff remark,” Groves told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I had a lot of time to work out how I feel about things. One of the things I didn’t want to do was to go on and represent people I don’t feel comfortable working with.”

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

As the Aussies dominated the pool in Tokyo, Swimming Australia president Kieren Perkins said: “I defy anyone to suggest there’s a cultural issue in swimming at the moment”.

Groves admitted she was upset by the comment.

“It was incredibly disappointing that the head of the entire organisation could deny there could be improvement,” Groves told the Herald

“It’s surprising because everyone else can see it. I have had a significant amount of people contact me and find out how they can get involved and speak to the independent panel, which is now taking submissions.

“I don’t have a lot of faith that things will change because I have spent the past few years trying to advocate for change. Seeing how unsuccessful that has been hasn’t really given me a lot of hope."

Swimming Australia launches investigation into claims

Swimming Australia has appointed barrister Chris Ronalds to lead its review into allegations of abuse.

Several unnamed former swimmers have since submitted allegations of misconduct to SA, which acknowledged historical abuses of swimmers dating back "decades".

"The community can be assured this will be an independent process and I look forward to presenting some outcomes that will ensure swimming will be a safe and successful environment in Australia in the future," Sydney-based Ronalds said in a statement issued by SA.

The statement said the review would investigate behaviour, conduct and practises of people in authority, ways to support the advancement of women in high performance coaching roles, and how to effectively address issues concerning performance physique in sport.

It would also look into the complaints process across SA's organisational structure.

"And while the focus is on females in the swimming community, our panel will work for the betterment of all in the swimming community," Ronalds added.

Former elite swimmer Jenny McMahon, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist who is now a senior academic at the University of Tasmania, subsequently claimed the sport had long suffered from a "degrading and abusive" culture.

McMahon said she had spent 14 years interviewing hundreds of swimmers and coaches, uncovering a pattern of "toxic" coaching habits.

with agencies

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