• Switzerland edition
 

Swim world rocked by child abuse scandal

Published: 21 Dec 2011 13:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Dec 2011 11:48 GMT+01:00

Switzerland's swimming communmity is in a state of shock after the president of the Bellinzona swimming club partially admitted to allegations of child abuse spanning more than 30 years.

Flavio B., 69, a well-known figure in the Swiss swimming world for decades, as been in a Ticino jail since December 16th.

According to Il Corriere del Ticino, at least 20 minors are believed to have fallen victim to his abuses from the 1970s until recently. Police began investigating after one of his alleged victims reported the matter last month.

During a ten-hour interrogation session, Flavio B. admitted to having had homosexual relationships with boys aged 12 to 16 years, but said that the intercourse always took place without violence.

Most of the sexual encounters are thought to have taken place at training camps, reported newspaper La Regione Ticino.

The allegations have left the Swiss swimming world reeling. Flavio B. was perceived as a charming, confident man with a very strong personality. Unmarried and with no children, it appeared he had dedicated his life to training others to swim at the highest level.

But some acquaintances said they had noticed a more shadowy side to his character.

"He was constantly surrounded by his gang of swimmers, overwhelmingly male. Most were introverted, had no friends and loved him as a father,” former swimming champion Stefan Volery told newspaper Le Matin.

“They formed a kind of cult, and they seemed submissive,” said Volery, who spent up to 100 days per year with Flavio B.

"For fifteen years, I noticed his abuses of authority and the ambiguous relationship he had with some of his swimmers," said former world champion Dano Halsall to the French-language paper.

Flavio B. coached athletes who won several medals in international competitions, including three Olympics Games.

A career covering nearly nearly five decades of seeming devotion to the water sport saw him nominated for the 2009 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year award.

The alleged abuser also served as a judge at every World Championship and European Championship since 1999. He combined his attendance at top-level races with teaching work at secondary schools and the Bellinzona swimming club he directed.

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Activist jailed for six years in Vasella case
Former Novartis chairman Daniel Vasella. Photo AFP/File

Activist jailed for six years in Vasella case

A British animal rights activist was jailed for six years on Thursday for her part in a Europe-wide campaign of intimidation targeting Huntington Life Sciences, an animal testing company linked to Swiss pharma giant Novartis. READ () »

Zoo faces cruelty charges over cub deaths
Kurt Nünlist was appalled by the deaths of two cubs at the Bern zoo (photo:zvg)

Zoo faces cruelty charges over cub deaths

A Swiss animal lover has filed a legal complaint against Bern zoo, accusing it of cruelty over the deaths of two bear cubs. Dählhölzli zoo could be fined under Switzerland’s tough animal protection laws. READ () »

Germans smuggle cash out of Switzerland
Customs officials found €573 million in illegal money in 2013. Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol

Germans smuggle cash out of Switzerland

The number of Germans smuggling money out of Switzerland rose dramatically last year. Customs officers on the German-Swiss border said on Thursday they made a find in almost every third car they checked. READ () »

Experts challenge e-cigarettes study
Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP

Experts challenge e-cigarettes study

Two Swiss medical organisations have rejected calls to overturn the ban on sales of electronic cigarettes in Switzerland. READ () »

Bern approves solution for Erasmus students
Students intending to go on an Erasmus exchange in 2014-15 will now be able to. Photo: Jirka Matousek

Bern approves solution for Erasmus students

Following the suspension of Switzerland's participation in the Erasmus student exchange programme, on Wednesday the federal government approved plans for a 23 million franc ($26 million) interim solution. READ () »

Kerry bound for Geneva talks on Ukraine crisis
US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva last year. Photo: Pool/AFP

Kerry bound for Geneva talks on Ukraine crisis

US Secretary of State John Kerry left on Wednesday for Geneva for high-stakes talks on Ukraine, armed with the threat of more sanctions against Moscow if diplomacy fails, as tensions on the ground escalated sharply. READ () »

Credit Suisse investment bank woes hurt profits
Credit Suisse offices in Zurich. Photo: Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse investment bank woes hurt profits

Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said on Wednesday that its first quarter net profit took a heavy hit as its investment bank reeled from slumping trading in bonds. READ () »

Ski champion announces same-sex marriage
Sylviane Berthod (right in each of the photos) and her partner. Photos: Facebook

Ski champion announces same-sex marriage

Former Swiss alpine ski champion Sylviane Berthod has announced her engagement to marry another woman in a public way — on her Facebook page. READ () »

UK blocks Swiss deal with EU on Croatia
EU headquarters in Brussels. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

UK blocks Swiss deal with EU on Croatia

The UK has scuppered, at least temporarily, an agreement in principle between Bern and Brussels over the free movement of people between Switzerland and Croatia, the Swiss broadcaster RTS says. READ () »

US regulator seeks more Credit Suisse documents
Photo: AFP

US regulator seeks more Credit Suisse documents

A New York regulator probing Credit Suisse's role in enabling tax evasion has demanded a trove of additional documents from the bank, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Former industrial zone transforms into Zurich’s trendiest spot
Tech
Swiss Solar Impulse team shows off new fuel-free aircraft
International
Suspect in Liechtenstein bank CEO murder case 'likely dead'
Sponsored Article
Caveman comedy comes to Zurich in English
Society
Innovative building provides refuge for hypersensitive tenants
Tech
VIDEO: Teenage boy sends Swiss army knife into stratosphere
International
Switzerland ranks second in world for social progress: report
National
Pharrell Williams set to perform in first Montreux jazzfest concert
Sport
American wingsuit flyer dies after Bernese Oberland accident
Business & Money
H&M plans hefty Swiss minimum wage for employees by 2015
International
Caterpillar accused by US senator of dodging taxes through 'Swiss plan'
International
Geneva man in Facebook page fight with Italian carmaker Ferrari
Advertisement:
International
Schumacher’s wife pays for 'medical suite' at Swiss family mansion
International
Aborted Swiss airlines take-off injures four at London airport
International
Swiss refuse asylum request from topless protest group founder
Business & Money
British expat former banker to head Swiss finance regulator FINMA
National
Swiss honey contains harmful plastic: TV consumer affairs report
Business & Money
Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe threatens Geneva exit over taxes
Business & Money
World's largest watch fair opens in Basel amid uncertain times
International
'Fergie' credits hikes around Verbier mountains for recent weight loss
Etoiles de Montagne
Sponsored Article
How to summer holiday up a Swiss mountain
Swissbenefits
Sponsored Article
How to avoid Switzerland’s tax haven trap
International
Switzerland's residents are the happiest in the OECD: report
International
Swiss voters support bid to establish lofty minimum wage: poll
National
Switzerland's largest cities set to back regulated 'cannabis clubs'
Business & Money
Franc surges against other currencies on rising Ukraine concerns
Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,122
jobs available