Tokyo 2020: Olympic swimmer Madeline Groves withdraws from trials over 'perverts' in sport

Madeline Groves
Madeline Groves won two Olympic silver medals in 2016

An Australian swimmer has withdrawn from upcoming Olympic trials, citing "misogynistic perverts" in the sport.

Madeline Groves, 26, said in 2020 she had complained "a few years ago" about an unnamed man in the sport who had made her feel uncomfortable.

Announcing her decision to withdraw on Wednesday, she said: "Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts... and their boot lickers..."

Swimming Australia's president said Groves has made no official complaint.

Kieren Perkins, speaking to Australia's Channel 9 on Friday, urged Groves to get in touch, saying that she was "certainly struggling at the moment it would seem, based on the social media posts that she's putting up".

"The reality is, that's all we know, what's on social media," Perkins said. "She's at no time contacted Swimming Australia. We haven't been able to talk to her directly and go through her concerns.

"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."

Groves won silver medals in 200 metres butterfly and 4x100 medley at the 2016 Rio Games.

Swimming Australia, the sport's national governing body, initially responded to Groves' withdrawal with a statement saying it had contacted her about her initial allegations, made last November and December, but that she had declined to provide further information and that it had no record of any previous complaints.

In the social media post on Wednesday explaining her decision to withdraw, she added: "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."

She said she was not quitting the sport and is still planning on racing in competitions later in the year.

In November and December 2020, she detailed her previous complaint on Twitter, saying she had raised concerns about a man who stared at her in her swimsuit and made her feel uncomfortable.

In response to those allegations, Swimming Australia said: "Swimming Australia reached out to Maddie in December 2020 to enquire about a tweet sent by her that referenced potential abuse by someone connected with swimming.

"Maddie declined to provide further information, nor do we have any previous complaints on record from Maddie.

"All allegations concerning child abuse or sexual misconduct are taken seriously by Swimming Australia. We consider the welfare, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as paramount, and we have a duty to make inquiries to uphold the standards of our sport."

Australia's Olympic swimming trials start in Adelaide on Saturday.

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