Three from Rochester swim club handed penalties

Saturday, November 6, 2004

By Craig Swalboski  The Post-Bulletin  - online edition

SWIMMING
USA Swimming has issued penalties to the coach and two board members of Rochester Swim Club Orcas regarding the changing of times recorded at a meet in 2002.
 
John Sfire, the coach, was handed a three-month suspension from all activities regarding the club; is prohibited from having any direct involvement in entering swimmers or their times into USA Swimming-related database; cannot for two years serve on any board or committee or as a meet or other official at a USAS event; and was fined $750.
 
Board member Jim Stewart was banned for two years from all Orcas activites and for three years from USAS involvement. Board member Ellen Youngers is prohibited for one year from Orcas activites and for two years from USAS involvement.
 
Both were also formally reprimanded for "casual attitude regarding the alteration of times, as well as to the truth in general" in the decision rendered by the USA Swimming Board of Review.
 
All three are considering appeals of the decision.
 
In similar statements released by their lawyers, Sfire, Stewart and Youngers said they believe the decision is wrong "for a number of reasons."

The Stewart-Youngers statement released by attorney Roger Stahl said in part: "First, (it) was a result of a lengthy process that consisted of a series of 11 hearings, conducted late into the evening by telephone, sometimes with four- to six-month gaps between hearings. Conducting the hearings in this manner makes meaningful evaluation and recall of details of testimony very difficult if not impossible.

"Second, the alleged conduct at issue concerns events that occurred over two years ago. Any of the claimed errors regarding swim meet times did not result in any harm to any swimmers, and the problems claimed to have occurred have been corrected and not repeated.  Notably, Minnesota Swimming Inc., which directly oversees swim clubs in Minnesota, examined some of the same complaints... and took no action after its investigation.

"Third, in rendering its decision, the National Board of Review went far beyond the proper, limited scope of its authority, according to the USA Swimming policy of not interfering with internal affairs of local swim clubs."

Sfire's statement, released by attorney Bill Davidson, added, "Minnesota Swimming Inc., which directly oversees swim clubs in Minnesota, examined some of the same complaints from Mr. (Jeff) Chida and took no action after its investigation."

Chida, of Rochester, was the petitioner in the case and was also mentioned in the decision as having "some responsibility in this unfortunate situation. The Board believes that (Chida) could have taken more thoughtful and proactive steps to resolve this situation; however, it is clear that (he) has personal issues with the respondents. The Board is powerless to take action against (him) in this matter."

Chida did much work for the club and two of his children were members for several years. His wife Linda was on the board until resigning in Sept. 2002. In 2001 the couple was jointly given the club's Dean Kaump Award for "inspirational leadership."
 
"The fact that the NBOR panel reprimanded me on why/how I presented the case is understandable not being a lawyer with ... club funds to squander on two professional lawyers to attack my credibility," Chida said in a statement. "This was a first -time event for me and I did not give up out of conviction.
 
"I still find it ironic that USA Swimming required a financially limited non-member parent to uphold the integrity of the sport of swimming for them. One would think it to be the logical responsibility of a national governing body?"

The Board found that Sfire altered times from the June 2002 Rochester Invitational, in some cases resulting in Orcas swimmers having split times that were faster than the world record for that stroke and distance. "The only logical conclusion that the Board can draw from the evidence presented is that such time modifications were made with the intent to defraud or deceive," the decision stated.
 
The Board also concluded that Stewart tampered with a diskette that contained the original meet database. Youngers, it was ruled, "(allowed) the falsified times to remain outstanding well after she knew or should have known they had been modified ... As a member of the board of directors ... it was incumbent upon her to pursue a resolution to such allegations, notwithstanding any relationship issues she may have had with the person making the allegations."

Complete Decision

John's Letter to Membership after Chida Vs. Sfire and Company Ruling

Bartusch Vs. Sfire Ruling

Orcas appeal of Knight Vs. Orcas Ruling

Knight Vs. Orcas Ruling

Orcas Meeting Declaration "No Club Funds Will Be Used"

Click Below for Truth

Orcas 2001 990 Filing

Orcas 2002 990 Filing

Orcas 2003 990 Filing

John's Letter to Membership about lawsuit against USA Swimming

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