The trouble began with a conversation about nine years ago, when a teenage badminton player, talented enough to compete internationally, told a friend and fellow competitor that a prominent coach they both knew had forced her to have sex.
Nothing happened at the time because the player did not want to file a police report. But the story lingered, mentioned in passing every so often, as the coach continued to work with American athletes.
When the allegation resurfaced last summer, discussed among USA Badminton officials before the Tokyo Olympics, the moment seemed right for action.
There was now a greater emphasis on protecting young athletes, and a new mechanism triggered by the Larry Nassar scandal, which saw the disgraced sports doctor molest hundreds of young athletes — including Olympic stars such as Simone Biles and Aly Raisman — before being caught and sent to prison.
The U.S. Olympic movement was pouring millions of dollars into the Center for SafeSport, a watchdog created in 2017 to investigate abuse. Congress had jumped into the fray, enacting laws to further safeguard athletes and requiring sports organizations to become more transparent in reporting allegations.
But this ambitious effort has struggled to gain traction. SafeSport has faced criticism for being ineffective and there is still some confusion about how the new rules should apply. The case of the badminton player is an example, dissolving into a Rashomon-like tale muddied by conflicting viewpoints and…