Blaming “misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers”, dual Olympic silver medallist Maddie Groves has pulled out of Australia’s swimming trials for the Tokyo Games. The 26-year-old, who came second in the 200-metre butterfly and 4×100 medley relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics, made the shock revelation ahead of the trials starting in Adelaide on Saturday. “Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers,” she said on Instagram late Thursday in explaining the move.
“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.”
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.
She also wrote days later about a “creepy comment” made by an unnamed coach, who she said apologised 15 minutes later “possibly cause the team psych told him to”.
Swimming Australia president Kieren Perkins said Groves had not made any official complaint, and urged her to get in touch.
“Unfortunately Maddie is certainly struggling a little bit at the moment it would seem, based on the social media posts that she’s putting up,” he told Channel Nine television Friday.
“The reality is, that’s all we know, what’s on social media, she’s at no time contacted Swimming Australia, we haven’t been able to talk to her directly and go through her concerns to find out what’s going on.”
“I can certainly reassure her 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,” he added.
Former 1500m freestyle Olympic champion Perkins stressed the governing body could only look into the matter if a complaint was lodged.
“Unfortunately, social media posts don’t constitute any actionable claim for us. We actually need to sit down and talk to people about this,” he said.
“We would love to do that and we’d like Maddie to come and speak with us if she feels that she can.”
Despite withdrawing from the trials, Groves indicated she was not calling time on her career, saying she looked forward to “racing at some other competitions later in the year”.
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