After 2 decades, Wielgus leaving as head of USA SwimmingJanuary 11, 2017 8:09pm

USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus is retiring after leading a federation that brought home 156 Olympic medals during his 20 years at the helm.

Wielgus, who turns 67 next month, has been battling colorectal cancer for more than 10 years and undergoes regular chemotherapy.

He will leave his job Aug. 31. He is the longest-tenured leader among U.S. Olympic organizations, and the 156 medals represent about one-third of America's overall total from the last five Olympics.

"This is all about my physical ability," Wielgus told The Associated Press after announcing his retirement Wednesday. "I love my job, love what I do, but I can't do it to the level I think it can be done. It's time for someone else to put their hands on the wheel."

During his two decades, USA Swimming's revenue has increased by about 600 percent, and its four-year, Olympic-cycle budget has grown from $35 million to $160 million. Membership more than doubled, to 400,000-plus, and Wielgus helped turn swimming's Olympic trials into a showcase event. The 2016 trials sold out more than 200,000 tickets.

Scott Blackmun, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said "swimming in the United States has never been stronger, and that's because of Chuck."

Asked about the biggest problem currently confronting swimming, and the Olympic movement itself, Wielgus said, "It's doping."

"I don't know how it is that others in the world, in the IOC and other places, how they can't recognize that the Olympic brand is so dependent on this notion of fair competition," he said. "It's frustrating for us as Americans, because we look at it and think the answers are simple but they become very politicized."

Of one of the seminal moments of last year's Olympics — when American swimmer Lilly King shook her finger at Russian Yulia Efimova, who had been previously banned for doping — Wielgus said: "I thought it was a wonderful moment."

"It wasn't contrived, wasn't planned, just a good old Midwestern all-American kid, saying, 'Not so fast,'" Wielgus said. "There may be more to this than I know, but for me, it was the highlight of the Games."

For the later part of his tenure, Wielgus was roundly criticized for his handling of numerous sexual-abuse cases against the organization. After saying he had done nothing wrong in a defiant TV interview in 2010, he apologized four years later, writing in a blog: "I wish my eyes had been more open to the individual stories of the horrors of sexual abuse. I wish I had known more so perhaps I could have done more."

Wielgus announced his retirement on the same day he learned he'd been approved to use a new cancer drug that's in clinical trial.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, left, drives against Phoenix Suns' P.J. Tucker in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 118-103.(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
LeBron considering return to US Olympic team under Popovich
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani perform during the short dance competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Chen dominates men's short program at US nationals
Former driver Kyle Petty presents the NASCAR Hall of Fame ring to a granddaughter of Raymond Parks, Patricia DePottey, during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Rick Hendrick rises from tobacco farmer to Hall of Famer
Walker scores 32, Hornets rout Raptors 113-78Kemba Walker scored 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting, and the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Toronto Raptors 113-78 on Friday night
FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2016, file photo, New England Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski (3) watches his successful field goal against the Houston Texans during an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass. Touchdowns are always nice, but clutch kickers are welcome security blankets for NFL offenses, especially in the playoffs. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Kickers for final 4 NFL playoff teams each have leg up
Refreshed Johnson shoots 64, in contention in Abu DhabiOver his jet lag and familiar with the golf course, Dustin Johnson is finally a real factor at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Related Searches

Related Searches