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Sports and Fitness BLOG

Abuse of Power

With the news agenda firmly fixed on individuals in high powered positions, taking advantage and exploiting colleagues in the work place, questions must be asked surrounding boundaries. Where is the proverbial line drawn in the sand?

 British Para – Swimming finds itself as the latest work place to be flipped upside down by the scandal. Renowned around the world as a center of excellence, which produces international podium finishes at a rate that puts to shame most manufacturing plants.

But with claims from inside the system specifically from athletes and parents suggesting that a ‘climate of fear’ had been created within the performance set-up. The former High – Performance coach, Rob Greenwood, has been held accountable. The coach in question, has also been accused of bullying and intimidating the swimmers who were under his control at the time.

Greenwood played a key role in delivering 47 medals in Rio last year, he was also honored with being named 2016 High Performance Coach of the Year by UK Coaching last December. Clearly the man knows how to extract every ounce of talent out of an athlete.

But at what extent?

With accusations of foul mouthed dressing – downs for athletes if they turned up moments late for a training session, or having to hide the fact they had seen their families at the weekends on their down time. Is this really a conducive environment to help performance to excel in?

Anyone who has been involved in elite level sport will understand that the phrase ‘you only get out what you put in’ couldn’t be truer, and often it is seen as the coaches’ job to help an athlete realise this.

Every coach will have their own formula to go about installing a winning mentality within a team but at the heart of it, the athletes’ welfare should always be integral.

In a statement made recently, Greenwood concedes that he pushes swimmers, whether able-bodied or disabled to their limits which he believes is what is agreed by the whole team.

There isn’t a problem with that, because performances which wins International Gold Medals and World Records take a period of extraordinary training to achieve it.

But getting the team psychologist to relay private and confidential information back to the coach, which can then be used against a swimmer to hopefully ‘inspire’ performance is unforgivable.

 This simple act would suggest that Greenwood has abused the power which was trusted in him when he was appointed in the position.

One could argue that this pressurised system, is the outcome from a viscous cycle created by lottery funding. Their demand for International Medals is the only performance indicator taken into account, when discussing the sport’s budget going forward into the next Olympic / Para-Olympic cycle. This pressure is then fed down to the coaches to deliver these targets, otherwise they face the inevitable consequences.  

No one can take away from him that he was successful, but how far over the proverbial line did he cross to achieve it? 

This is hardly an isolated incident and across the board people in power are systematically exploiting their roles.

Where the Paralympic swimming situation holds a place in more of a grey area, cases such as Harvey Weinstein, Roy Price and other recently exposed executives are revealing that the intricacies of a widely acknowledged title and reputation are not as simple as they seem.

Although these are by no means to be cast in the same bracket, the recurrence of these events should force society to rethink the standards to which they hold their leaders.

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