Retired Olympic Diver Jan Hempel Accuses German Federation of Mishandling Abuse Claims

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Retired Olympic Diver Jan Hempel Accuses German Federation of Mishandling Abuse Claims

Retired Olympic diver Jan Hempel this week has accused the German swimming federation of failing to act on complaints about being sexually abused by a former coach.

The four-time Olympian alleges that former coach Werner Langer abused him for 14 years starting when he was 11 years old in 1982. Hempel, who retired after the 2000 Olympics, made his accusations public this week in a documentary, “Abused – Sexual Abuse in German Swimming,” aired by German public broadcaster ARD. He was not the only athlete to come forward with accusations against the DSV as part of the program.

“The federation 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,” Hempel said in an interview with news agency DPA on Friday, as reported by the Associated Press. “Of course, I was at a level where I had goals in mind and I wanted to reach them.”

Hempel first reported the abuse by Langer in 1997 to German national team coach Ursula Klinger. It had continued for years at that point, including at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Langer was suspended though not for his abusive conduct. He later worked for the Austrian swimming federation before committing suicide in 2001.

The DSV released a statement apologizing to victims after the documentary aired and said it was, ““deeply dismayed by the description of the terrible experiences of the victims of sexualized and sexual violence.” It also, however, maintained that the organization and its president at the time “had knowledge of such allegations.”

One coach who is alleged to have had knowledge of the abuse, Lutz Buschkow, has been released from his position as a national diving coach with the DSV, with immediate effect and pending an investigation.

Hempel is one of Germany’s most decorated international divers. The native of Dresden competed for East Germany at the 1988 Olympics before representing the unified Germany. He finished fourth at the 1992 Olympics but grabbed silver in the 10-meter platform at Atlanta and bronze in Sydney in 2000. He also won three gold and eight total European Championships medals plus silver in the platform synchro and bronze in the platform at the 1998 World Championships in Perth.