The CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Association Aided in Coverup of Sexual Abuse by Coaches

If you think it’s a good idea to help cover — or remain silent — for coaches who sexually abuse athletes, then you shouldn’t be involved with sports.

Travis Tygart, current CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Association, was part of the legal team assisting U.S.A. Swimming while they orchestrated a coverup for coaches who sexually abused athletes.

Now seems like a good time to review how Tygart remained silent as these coaches avoided punishment, only to be rewarded with the position of CEO of USADA, an organization that purports to foster a “positive youth sport experience,” and preserve/inspire/protect the integrity of sport.

Under Mr.Tygart, the integrity of sport has been protected by people like Clark Griffith, who sat on USADA’s 2012 doping review board of Lance Armstrong. At the time, Griffith was a university professor facing criminal charges for exposing himself to a female student. [After an attempt to blame the victim, Griffith accepted a plea deal and received sexual offender counseling.]

Prior to being CEO of USADA, while working at the Bryan Cave law firm, Tygart was part of the staff charged with following up on abuse and molestation allegations by USA Swimming members.

These “followups” were done in concert with private investigators:

“The investigators did their work on no set schedule. If the case was well publicized, USA Swimming would announce an “emergency hearing”; if not too many people noticed, the investigators moved the case to the bottom of an ever-thicker stack of pending complaints…
“Though these methods ill-served both victims and the membership at large, they were convenient for the bloated and highly paid staff, and for the plausible deniability of multimillion-dollar sponsors and broadcast partners.”

One such followup included the investigation of Simon Daniel Chocron, a Venezuelan swim coach for the Bolles Sharks swim club at The Bolles School (where Tygart is listed as a notable alumni).

Chocron had been coaching for less than a year before the first sexual abuse charges were filed against him by an athlete. Less than a week later, a second victim came forward. One was male, one was female, and both were minors. A fourteen count indictment was eventually handed down, followed by a civil lawsuit against the school.

Chocron jumped bail and made it back to Venezuela. Shortly thereafter, a packet detailing his arrest and subsequent flight was sent to a Vice President of USA Swimming and to Richard Young (USA Swimming’s chief counsel and Tygart’s boss at the time).

Four months later (!) the National Board of Review heard the case against Chocron (in absentia) and banned him from USA Swimming. Tygart served as the prosecuting attorney for USA Swimming throughout this internal board of review (a kangaroo court where the organization serves as prosecutor, judge, and jury).

Naturally, USA Swimming immediately notified the public about the sexual predator in the midst of their sport…

HA, just kidding! The review board said nothing to the public, and the man who would later be charged with overseeing anti-doping in the United States remained silent (which he has done to this day). Remaining silent is giving explicit aid to the coverup of these events.

Another eight years would pass before Chocron’s name appeared on a public list of coaches banned by USA Swimming. Where was our intrepid “prosecuting attorney” when USA Swimming failed to publicly disclose the sexual predator in their ranks? Eight years?!?

Following the review board, Chocron was arrested in Spain (at the swimming world championships), but he somehow made it back to Venezuela, who refuse to extradite him. Judging by his Twitter account, he’s still heavily involved in the swimming world.

Travis Tygart, for USA Swimming, helped engineer the non-publicity of the guilty plea and bail-jumping of Danny Chocron, a swim coach at Tygart’s prep alma mater, the Bolles School in Florida, who had molested both girls and boys under his supervision — yet lives and coaches freely back in his native Venezuela, to this very day.

It is only because of the silence of USA Swimming that Chocron was able to remain active in the sport, and it’s this exact type of silence that facilitates the widespread problem of sexual abuse in the athletic community. And this silence is exactly why Tygart should not be CEO of USADA; it is antithetical to the tenets the organization claims to represent.

Let’s not forget that this is a man who waged a very public campaign against Lance Armstrong, spanning the course of years, who took every opportunity to speak to the media about his crusade. But on the subject of the rampant sexual abuse that he “investigated,” Tygart remained (and remains) silent — even while the perpetrators of these horrific crimes continued to be involved with the sport and avoided being publicly named by the organization Tygart represented.

Fast forward to early 2017 and the CEO of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus, has been implicated with orchestrating numerous coverups, mishandling sexual abuse charges, and committing perjury throughout numerous civil lawsuits filed by victims.

Make no mistake, this behavior does not occur in a vacuum, and in his role as a USA Swimming lawyer in the early 2000s, Mr. Travis Tygart was “…charged with keeping the American public as little informed as possible about the widespread abuse in its ranks by some of the sport’s most prominent coaches.”

And in this capacity he was highly effective; most people don’t know that USA Swimming had a sex abuse problem comparable to the one in gymnastics.

Since becoming CEO of USADA, Tygart has refused to answer media inquiries on the sexul abuse scandals he saw swept under the rug. And it seems that nobody can force him to do so.

But it’s worth noting that although USADA is a non-governmental agency and can not be considered a state actor, it was not only created by the federal government, but also receives massive federal funding (the Office of National Drug Control Policy awarded them $18.5 million in grants between 2015–16).

Therefore, it’s your tax dollars paying Travis Tygart’s salary and giving him — and everyone else whose silence makes them complicit in sexual abuse — the message that it’s ok to remain silent. And not only that remaining silent is ok, but that you’ll be rewarded for it.

This needs to change.