You are here

USA Swimming Speaks Out Against Brock Turner

Shutterstock

There's a lot that the Brock Turner case got wrong, not the least of which is a slap-on-the-wrist sentence from Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky.

If you haven't heard, Turner, a former swimmer at Stanford University, was sentenced to a six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in January 2015. The jury found Turner guilty of assault with the intent to commit rape of an intoxicated person, penetration of an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and penetration of an unconscious person with a foreign object. The judge deemed a six-month jail sentence appropriate since a longer one would have "a severe impact on him." People are rightfully outraged over the short sentence, which by the way, he likely won't serve in its entirety. A Washington Post story says Turner is scheduled to walk free before Labor Day, citing the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections.

Now, USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport in the U.S., has officially banned Turner from joining in the future. That's a big deal because Turner's connection to swimming was key to the trial. In his letter addressing the court, Turner admitted that his actions dashed his hopes of swimming in the Olympics. The victim said she learned from a news article the disgusting details of what happened while she was unconscious. The article also included Turner's swim times at the end—as if that somehow made his crimes less horrific. Turner's probation officer also used the fact that Turner "surrendered a hard-earned swimming scholarship" as a reason for the judge to take it easy on him. Could the ban be USA Swimming's way of saying, "Stop hiding behind our sport"?

A spokesman for USA Swimming, who emailed USA TODAY Sports on behalf of the organization, said Turner wasn't a member at the time of his crime, and he's not welcome to join the organization after serving his sentence either. "Brock Turner is not a member of USA Swimming and, should he apply, he would not be eligible for membership," the email read.

That means Turner also won't be allowed to compete at USA Swimming–backed events, which includes the U.S. Olympic Trials, the swim meet that determines who'll represent the country at the Olympics. The reason behind the ban—other than obviously not wanting to be associated with Turner—is that USA Swimming holds its members to a Code of Conduct, which includes a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. Breaking that code can lead to being permanently barred from the organization.

The ban is no jail sentence, but it's a good move by an organization that wasn't required to step up at all. For that reason, we say bravo, USA Swimming.