Calif. swim coach says accuser is 'bully'

Associated Press

A San Diego swim coach alleged to have multiple identities and a felony conviction fired back Tuesday, calling his accuser a "bully" with a checkered past.

James Pantera issued a statement one day after a complaint was filed with USA Swimming by Mike Saltzstein, a former vice president with the governing body.

The statement said Saltzstein is "attempting to smear the name of a well respected and liked swim coach and official" who has passed numerous background checks. It also points to Saltzstein's legal issues, saying he was involved in an insider trading case more than a decade ago.

Saltzstein went to USA Swimming alleging Pantera has at least 11 identities and three dates of birth, and that he was sentenced to a year in federal prison for making false statements and fraudulently obtaining student loans.

USA Swimming said it would "carefully look into the matter."

Pantera's statement came after The Associated Press emailed a request to his Web site, which describes him as a swim coach, physiologist, executive and consultant.

"Mr. Saltzstein is attempting to obfuscate the current complaints against himself, for a long history of bullying in violation of USA Swimming's new anti-bullying policies," it said.

The statement also referred to a 1999 case that Saltzstein settled by paying about $6,000 to the Securities and Exchange Commission, without conceding any wrongdoing.

Saltzstein scoffed at Pantera's description of how he is viewed within the swimming community.

"Having been a coach or official for about six weeks, it would be difficult to have long-term positive references within the sport," Saltzstein said.

He called on USA Swimming to take swift action to revoke Pantera's membership, saying it would be the best way to show the organization is serious about protecting athlete safety in the wake of sexual abuse allegations that rocked the sport.

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