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Swimming Australia bosses address media amid Maddie Grove allegations and withdrawal from 2021 Tokyo Olympics Games

Swimming Australia has accepted it “could have done better” and committed to a zero-tolerance stance as allegations of abuse continue to rock the governing body.

Chief executive Alex Baumann and deputy chair Tracy Stockwell addressed the media in Adelaide today, several days after swimming star Maddie Groves withdrew from this year’s Olympic trials in a protest against “misogynistic perverts”, ruling her out of the Tokyo Games.

Baumann told reporters that the Swimming Australia board had today held a “regularly scheduled meeting” and addressed Groves’ allegations, which she laid bare on social media last Thursday.

In that meeting, Swimming Australia committed to two “priorities”: a zero-tolerance approach against abuse and a more easily accessible complaints process.

“Swimming Australia is committed to a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour across any level of swimming associated with our organisation,” Baumann said.

“In addition, we acknowledge the complaints process should be easily accessible and we have committed to ensuring all our members are aware of our avenues to access this process.

“The independent pathways through the Australian Institute of Sport and Sport Integrity Australia may not have been communicated clearly in the past. We could have done better.

“In the next 24 hours we will be sending a communication to all of our community reiterating the avenues of process for any complaint. This information will be communicated on the Swimming Australia website, as well.”

Among Groves’ allegations are complaints of body shaming and young female swimmers being told to take on unnecessary diets.

Swimming Australia has implored the Rio Olympics 200-metre butterfly silver medallist to make her allegations official. The governing body has also tried to make contact with the 26-year-old, but she is yet to reply.

On the back of Groves’ allegations, Swimming Australia has committed to setting up an all-female independent panel to investigate the treatment of women and girls in the industry.

Stockwell gave an update on the forming of that panel in her press conference with Baumann.

“We’re making quite a bit of progress,” Stockwell said.

“We have a draft terms of reference for the formation of our panel. This has gone through our integrity and ethics committee, as well as the board today, and we’re still finessing that.

“This is an important step. We’re really encouraged by the public interest in this work, and we’ve had a number of impressive candidates expressing a willingness to be involved since the announcement on Saturday.”

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