Investigations are well underway into allegations that a prominent table tennis coach may have lied about the nationality of one of his students. Coach Jon Gustavson has adamantly denied any wrongdoing. His continual denials and claims of forgetfulness only make him look guilty. A local player has linked him to other crimes, including unwanted inclusion of deceased players in group emails. It is worth noting that neither the deceased players, or their spouses, objected to, or confirmed these allegations. Coach Gustavson’s case was further damaged when pictures from 2012 surfaced showing a loitering Gustavson standing directly in front of signage clearly forbidding such behavior. Allegations that he may have been wearing blackface in the picture have been debunked, although it does appear he was working on a tan. Gustavson has admitted to being in Florida, but denies that he was purposely trying to darken his skin. A third cousin of his confirmed that they had never known Gustavson to use sunscreen.
The case against Gustavson seems to be far more clear than other incidents from his shady past. Still, the similarity to the case that he was impersonating a Swedish citizen make the current accusations seem far more plausible. While it is not unusual for a table tennis coach to have meetings with players from other countries, it is outrageous that he would misrepresent the nationality of one of his students. Testimony from a table tennis whistleblower states that they had referred to a student of Gustavson’s as “Russian” as far back as June 2nd, 2019. Transcripts from this conversation have “conveniently” been unavailable. While the coach contends he didn’t begin coaching this student until August, it is clear he is a liar, and has really bad hair. Are we to believe that he was unaware of the anonymous player’s Ukrainian heritage? No one has been able to prove that Gustavson called the player Russian. He did however, fail to correct this error, or report it to the ITTF and Safe Sport, as required by 2022 USATT guidelines.
As of October 1st, Coach Gustavson has maintained his innocence. It is likely that he has profited financially by his ties to Ukrainian players. It remains to be seen how much his private coaching empire has taken advantage of misleading information. All of this may come to a head around April 15th when he will be forced to release his tax information. From all the information currently available, we can easily discern what Coach Gustavson was thinking, what his intentions were, and how this fits a pattern of unsavory and illegal actions. If there is any justice in the world, he will be convicted of high crimes for his mishandling of information. Perhaps some day we can live in a world where we can all feel safe, knowing no one can say anything.