German swimming federation accused of ignoring sexual abuse
BERLIN (AP) — Former Olympic diver Jan Hempel has accused the German swimming federation of failing to heed his complaints of being sexually abused for years by former coach Werner Langer.
Hempel, who represented Germany at four Olympic Games, says Langer repeatedly abused him for 14 years starting in 1982 – when he was 11 years old.
“The federation (DSV) suggested to me that if I spread that around, it would put our sport in danger and then you can’t take part in your sport anymore. Of course, I was at a level where I had goals in mind and I wanted to reach them,” Hempel told news agency DPA on Friday.
Hempel first made his allegations against Langer in a documentary called “Abused – Sexual Abuse in German Swimming” aired by public broadcaster ARD on Thursday. It also documented other former swimmers’ allegations of abuse by unnamed coaches across the sport.
The DSV reacted later Thursday, when it said it was “deeply dismayed by the description of the terrible experiences of the victims of sexualized and sexual violence” in ARD’s report. It apologized to the “victims for having to endure such traumatic experiences.”
Hempel said Langer’s abuse continued regularly until he defended himself for the first time before the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. A year later, he said he informed German national team coach Ursula Klinger. Langer was suspended, not because of the abuse, but rather due to an alleged Stasi past, Hempel said.
Langer later worked for the Austrian swimming federation. He died by suicide in 2001.
The DSV also said it was suspending national diving coach Lutz Buschkow, whom Hempel said was aware of Langer’s abuse. Buschkow had been working with the German team at this month’s European Championships in Rome.
The DSV said, however, there was no indication from files it examined that Buschkow had been aware of the alleged abuse.
“The DSV president at the time, Rüdiger Tretow, also assured that neither he nor the presidium had knowledge of such allegations,” the DSV said in a statement.
Hempel told ARD he was abused by Langer in a public toilet before he competed at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
“He never ruled out a time not to let his wishes and needs run free,” Hempel said.
Another athlete who wished to remain anonymous told the documentary that Langer sexually accosted him while he was sleeping before an event.
“Everyone has been silent until today,” Hempel said. “I think we owe it to others to talk about it, also for the future.”
More AP Europe sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports-europe and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports