British open water swimming coach Alan Bircher has lost his spot on the Team GB Olympic staff following a 12-month welfare investigation, multiple British outlets reported Friday morning, including The Guardian.
The investigation reportedly heard allegations of a “toxic culture of bullying, fat-shaming, defying Covid restrictions, and failing to report safeguarding concerns” from Bircher at his club, the Ellesmere College Titans, where he’s the Director of Swimming.
Bircher, 39, was also suspended by Swim England, along with the rest of the club’s coaching staff, with numerous complaints from member parents prompting the organization to launch an immediate review of the club which was found to back up several of the claims made.
A spokesperson from Swim England told The Guardian said that the review into welfare concerns at the club led to the recommendation to not have Bircher be apart of Team GB’s swimming coach staff in Tokyo.
British Swimming confirmed that Bircher would not be in Tokyo, saying it a statement: “as a consequence of the review, coach Alan Bircher was not nominated to the Tokyo Olympic coaching team for 2021 and will not be part of the team at the Games.”
In October of 2019, Bircher was selected to lead the British open water swimmers in Tokyo.
A joint statement from British Swimming and Swim England told media outlets that an independent review took place between July 2020 and June 2021 after the concerns raised by parents.
“Swim England was extremely concerned to receive notification of welfare issues from parents of swimmers in Ellesmere College Titans Swimming Club and on receipt of these notifications instigated a thorough independent review, which was conducted in partnership with the relevant Statutory Agency and the Local Authority Designated Officer.
“The report identified welfare and governance issues and immediately the review was concluded, Swim England implemented all the recommendations in the report to ensure a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone in the club.
“This involved a complete change of the governance structure of the club and Swim England Officers working alongside members to put in place a revised structure and procedures. An independent welfare officer is supporting the club and as the programme coaches are currently suspended, coaching support has been secured for the programme, overseen by an experienced Swim England talent coach.”
The Swim England spokesperson added: “Swim England will remain working with the club until such time as we are content our robust safeguarding and welfare procedures and policies are embedded within the governance of the club.”
Bircher represented Great Britain at six World Championships in open water from 2003 to 2008, winning silver in the men’s 10km at the 2004 championships in Dubai.
SwimSwam has reached out to Bircher for comment.